The Mexico City Policy or ‘Global Gag Rule’ by Marie Stopes International

Festival of Choice 2017

*reposted from Marie Stopes International website – read the full post here*

The Mexico City Policy: A world without choice

Millions of women in the developing world are likely to lose access to modern contraception, following the re-introduction of a Republican policy that blocks US Government funding to non-US organisations that perform abortion with their own funding. This will negatively impact not just women’s health and their opportunities for the future, but the longer-term economic prospects and stability of the world’s poorest countries.

The Mexico City Policy (sometimes called the Global Gag Rule) will prevent USAID from partnering with organisations that deliver comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services, often in places where no other services exist. This decision will not only deprive women of their right to have children by choice, not chance, but in many cases their access to primary healthcare.

What is the Mexico City Policy?

The Mexico City Policy is a US Executive Order that means any international organisation that provides or promotes abortion services – regardless of how those services are funded – is prohibited from receiving US Government funding.

The Mexico City Policy was first enacted by Ronald Reagan in 1984. Since then, successive presidents have alternatively rescinded and re-enacted the policy. In January 2017, the incoming Republican administration re-enacted the Mexico City Policy.

The scale of the issue

Since 2009, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has made a significant investment in projects that expand access to voluntary contraception for women and girls in developing countries. Currently, USAID is the world’s largest bilateral donor in family planning, investing approximately $620 million a year in family planning services.

There are long-standing legislative restrictions in place to ensure that USAID does not ever fund abortion services. However, before the Mexico City Policy was re-enacted, USAID was able to fund family planning programmes with organisations like Marie Stopes International, which provide safe abortion services using funding from other donors. It is these organisations that will be affected by the policy.

Through our partnership with USAID, Marie Stopes International has been able to provide voluntary contraceptive services to millions of poor and disadvantaged women, girls and communities across Africa and Asia. We estimate that if USAID funding continued to support family planning services delivered to our clients, we would reach approximately 1.5 million women and girls annually, preventing an estimated 1.6 million unintended pregnancies, averting 530,000 abortions (505,000 of them unsafe), and averting 5,265 maternal deaths each year.

Read the rest of the post on Marie Stopes International website!

*reposted from Marie Stopes International website – read the full post here*

Festival of Choice 2017 excited to host the play ‘Mission Abort’

Festival of Choice 2017

Mission Abort by Therese Ramstedt

Written and performed by Therese Ramstedt 
Directed by Claire Stone
Produced by Courtenay Johnson

“Masterfully executed, Mission Abort tackles the taboo around abortion and makes the important point that it’s an issue that society should no longer be ashamed to address.” – Edinburgh Festivals Magazine, ★★★★

Pain! Shame! Confusion! Or… empowering freedom and a massive relief? 

Strong opinions on abortion legislation are voiced on a daily basis; Mission Abort challenges taboos by exploring a woman’s perspective on the actual experience – from discovering she is pregnant, to making the decision, following it through and getting on with life afterwards. Described by The Scotsman as “an honest and emotional journey which is necessarily bittersweet, this explosive one-woman play invites the audience along for a laugh-cry rollercoaster ride – asking the big question: how can a choice that is so right be so hard?

Following its acclaimed world premiere at the 70th Edinburgh Fringe Festival at Gilded Balloon’s Rose Theatre (2-28 August), Mission Abort returns to London for a special performance at the Festival of Choice 2017. 

Reviews from Edinburgh Fringe 2017

“Ramstedt’s performance is empowering in its complete faith in a woman’s right to choose, but it also effectively highlights the sad reality of abortion shaming in society […] Masterfully executed, Mission Abort tackles the taboo around abortion and makes the important point that it’s an issue that society should no longer be ashamed to address”|★★★★ Edinburgh Festivals Magazine

“…a very mature, honest, human take on the still largely taboo topic of abortion […] In equal measure tragic and humorous, Ramstedt lands a beautiful, powerful performance […] the script deftly tackles the question of contraception being a woman’s responsibility, the issues with free counselling, and the wider lack of discussion on the topic.”
★★★★ Fringe Guru

“Mission Abort is a courageous and deeply moving show […] Therese is no holding back in this production, and the stark portrayal of the experience makes it a poignant and meaningful show […] ”Overall, it was brilliantly acted and incredibly emotive.”
★★★★ Voice Magazine

“This is a skilful production that successfully imparts to its spectators the importance of discussing abortion, and argues that it is still an act not fully understood in today’s society […] Impressively, ‘Mission Abort’ navigates the important divide between the personal and the political”
★★★★ Ed Fringe Review 

***E.g. please note, for The Festival of Choice we are presenting a stripped back performance of Mission Abort ***

Words of Choice produces plays Reproductive Freedom is What We Want

Festival of Choice 2017

Words of Choice: Up the Creativity

Arts in Support of Reproductive Freedom, Health, Rights and Justice!

Reproductive Freedom is What We Want, a 30-minute collections of short theater pieces about reproductive health and rights, can now be accessed on SoundCloud.

The selections can be played from beginning to end, or individually, and can be accessed on SoundCloud, or from the links below.

The theater pieces feature performers Crista Marie Jackson, Julissa Roman and Claudia Schneider, under the direction of Francesca Mantani Arkus.

The original recording of the dramatic works was done by Words of Choice in collaboration with the International Women’s Artists Salon (IWAS), and its online radio program on the City World Radio Network. Heidi Russell is the founder of IWAS. Cindy Cooper of Words of Choice curated the selections.

The overall collection of nine works — poetry, comedy, short plays, spoken word, thought pieces — by a diverse group of writers can be played beginning to end on SoundCloud (embedded below)

Or the individual selections can be accessed on their own. They are:

1-“Incantation” by June Jordan — performed by Claudia Schneider, Crista Marie Jackson, and Julissa Roman.

2-“She Said: before 1973” (excerpted) by Judith Arcana, — performed by Julissa Roman, Claudia Schneider and Crista Marie Jackson.

3-“Nobody” (excerpted) by Esosa Edosomwan — performed by Crista Marie Jackson.
4-Fine Line,” from the Feminist Women’s Health Center — performed by Julissa Roman.

5-“You’re On Your Own” (a satire)by Michael David Quinn — performed by Crista Marie Jackson, Claudia Schneider and Julissa Roman.

6-“Parallel Lives” by Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, intro by Angela Bonavoglia from “The Choices We Made” — performed by Claudia Schneider and Crista Marie Jackson.

7-“Siege” by Dr. Susan Wicklund, adapted from “This Common Secret” — performed by Claudia Schneider

8-“Laws I Want” by Cindy Cooper and Words of Choice, hat-tip to Charlotte Taft — performed by Julissa Roman, Claudia Schneider and Crista Marie Jackson.

9-“Why I March” by Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondich, Executive Director of Women’s for a change (Wfac)in Cameroon — performed by Crista Marie Jackson, Julissa Roman and Claudia Schneider.

Special thanks to Jeremy Rishe for sound editing and creating SoundCloud versions of the radio performance.

Read the blog here:

Visit the Words of Choice blog here:

‘Not Designed for Comfort’: IMELDA Discusses the ‘Tampon Tax’

Festival of Choice 2017

Press Release by Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. (Speaking of Ireland Making England the Legal Destination for Abortion), 13th April 2017

Not Designed for Comfort’: IMELDA Discusses the ‘Tampon Tax’

On Sunday 9th April 2017, the pro-choice direct-action feminist performance group, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A., responded to the British government’s bequeathing of £250,000 of the so-called ‘tampon tax’ funds to anti-choice charity ‘Life.’ Staging an intervention by the sanitary product shelf in a Hackney Tesco store, the group demonstrated their outrage that money from the tampon tax was given to the biased anti-choice charity ‘Life’, which is ‘against abortion’ and perpetuates misinformation by wrongly linking abortion with breast cancer. In this action, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. parody sanitary brand adverts to highlight the irony that taxes from these brands, which often market themselves on enabling women to be uninhibited by their reproductive biology, are being used to restrict reproductive autonomy.