Government grant given to help vulnerable pregnant women: women's groups outraged
3 April 2017
The Government said the grant to Life was for a specific project "that will help homeless and other at risk women who are pregnant"
Abortion campaigners and other "women's groups" have reacted with fury to the news that Life has been awarded a government grant for their work in helping vulnerable pregnant women.
The money comes from a fund created from the VAT levied on women's sanitary products, known as the "Tampon tax". Under pressure from campaigners after failing to honour a pledge to scrap the 5% VAT on sanitary products, former chancellor George Osborne said last year that more than £10m a year would be redistributed from the tax receipts to women’s charities.
Helping homeless and at-risk women
A spokeswoman from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "Life has been awarded £250,000 to fund a specific project in West London that will help homeless and other at risk women who are pregnant by providing housing, counselling and life skills training." . The news caused an instant media storm, with headlines such as Outrage after tampon tax money is used to fund anti-abortion charity, and Tampon Tax VAT money given to anti-abortion Life charity in 'scandal'.
Clare Murphy of BPAS said: "This is a tax on women's periods being used to fund an organisation that is opposing women's autonomy over their own bodies and pregnancies. They are not interested in women, they are interested in unborn babies, and giving priority to unborn babies over women’s needs is absolutely shocking."
Labour MP Paula Sherriff has promised to seek an "urgent review" of the decision to award the grant, saying: "It will seem bitterly ironic to many women if we are taxed for our biology, only for the government to hand over that money to organisations that don't even believe we should have control over our own bodies, especially when so many are left without basic sanitary protection."
£250k versus £100m
Debating Life's Clara Watson on Radio 5, Ms Sherriff ignored her descriptions of how the money would be spend to help the most vulnerable women, insisting that "anti-abortion" organisations should not be given government funding. She also did not answer Miss Watson's point that over £100 million pounds of taxpayer's money is spent on abortion - a huge amount compared to the £250,000 being given to Life to offer alternatives.
In a statement Life told metro.co.uk: "It is regrettable some sections of the media have carried the story in the way they have. It is unquestionable Life has provided support for women for four decades. Last year we housed 187 women who were homeless and pregnant. Now are they saying we shouldn’t do that kind of work? If women choose to continue their pregnancies should we not house them? It seems strange that charities that say they have the interests of women at heart would lobby against us."
Government should protect women and children
SPUC Chief Executive John Smeaton said: "The reaction to this grant makes it abundantly clear that these so-called 'pro-choice' groups do not care about women. They are willing to oppose money being given to support vulnerable pregnant women, solely because that support is being offered by a group that doesn't believe abortion is the best answer to a crisis pregnancy. We hope that the Government does not give in to this bullying by the abortion lobby, and acts to protect and support mothers and their children. A good first step would be responding to SPUC and Life's joint petition calling for Marie Stopes, which has an appalling record on caring for women, to have its license to perform abortions withdrawn."
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