Rights-based claims made by UK anti-abortion activists


This article analyzes the ways in which rights-based arguments are utilized by anti-abortion activists in the UK. Drawing on an ethnographic study featuring 30 abortion clinic sites, anti-abortion marches, and other campaigns, we argue that rights-based claims form an important part of their arguments. In contrast to the way in which human rights law has been interpreted to support abortion provision, anti-abortion activists seek to undermine this connection through a number of mechanisms. First, they align their arguments with scientific discourse and attempt to downplay the religious motivation for their action. While this is an attempt to generate greater credibility for their campaign, ultimately, the coopting of scientific arguments actually becomes embedded in their religious practice, rather than being separate from it. Second, they reconfigure who should be awarded human rights, arguing not only that fetuses should be accorded human rights but also that providing abortion to women goes against women’s human rights. This article is important in showing how rights claims are religiously reframed by anti-abortion activists, and what the implications are regarding debates about access to abortion services in relation to religious rights and freedom of belief.

Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Policy
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
Additional Information: Copyright © 2019 Lowe and Page. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted non- commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Publication ISSN: 2150-4113
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 07:50
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2019 09:51
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.hhr ... tion-activists/ (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2019-12-09
Accepted Date: 2019-11-08
Authors: Lowe, Pam (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5933-453X)
Page, Sarah-Jane (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-6879-536X)



Version: Accepted Version

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only


Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial

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