5 days in the life of ANN FUREDI

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MONDAY: A meeting with British Pregnancy Advisory Service to discuss a MORI poll we've commissioned on abortion means I'm up at 6am to travel to Birmingham. The questions were designed to gauge public opinion as accurately as possible and from a pro-choice perspective the results are good. Sixty-four per cent agree that abortion should be legally available to all who want it, while 25 per cent disagree. Those who agree have increased by 10 per cent since 1980. A majority approve of abortion when the woman's life or health is at risk, when she is under 16, in cases of rape and/or the pregnancy would result in a mentally or physically disabled child.

The not-so-good news is that 51 per cent disapprove of abortion when the woman cannot afford to have a child. It's also clear that many in the 15-24 age group have ambivalent attitudes.

Interestingly, disapproving of abortion and wishing to make it illegal, it seems, are not the same thing. BPAS chief executive Ian Jones points out that lots of their clients think abortion is the best solution for themselves but still think abortion is "wrong" in the abstract.

I get back to the Birth Control Trust office mid-afternoon. Fortunately a friend will collect my son from his nursery so I can stay late to brief Baroness Gould who will chair Thursday's press conference.

TUESDAY: Jake (age one) wakes up at 7am and practices singing-shouting which wakes me 10 minutes before the alarm. My husband, Frank, is dead to the world. I can get myself and Jake up, dressed and out in 30 minutes on my own, but when Frank helps it's easier. Do I wake him or not? Of course I do!

At the office David Nolan who runs press work has drafted a summary of the poll which MORI will check. Amanda Callaghan, parliamentary officer, has identified which MPs might be targeted by anti-abortion candidates in the election and we discuss how to ensure they are aware of the true state of public opinion. I discuss the poll with some weekly medical papers.

I take home various draft briefing papers to check when Jake has gone to bed. As always, the couple of hours between when I get home and Jake's bedtime are "his time". We play with building blocks and he sings-shouts along to a CD of Disney tunes.

WEDNESDAY: The calm before the storm. David and I second-guess how the anti-choice lobby will respond and what our counter response should be. I'm tense because MORI chairman Bob Worcester is to present the data at the press conference and we haven't yet seen his slides. This means we don't know what he's going to say. David insists that, as MORI have vetted our press briefing for accuracy, their interpretation of the data cannot be very different. Obviously he's right but I can't bear to leave anything to chance. I drive the office mad humming Disney tunes under my breath.

THURSDAY: After pre-recording a piece for Radio 4's Woman's Hour, I dash down to the press conference at the House of Commons. David is in heated negotiations with the audio-visual man because they've supplied a slide projector not an overhead projector. At 10.30 we have a room full of press and representatives of pro-choice organisations. Amanda is searching for Sir David Steel who arrives just in time, having sprinted from another meeting.

The event is so effortless it's almost an anti-climax. Baroness Gould and Sir David Steel express their concerns at the inaccuracy of much of the material circulated to politicians by anti-choice groups. Bob Worcester emphasises the significance of the increased support for legal abortion and the chairs of BCT and BPAS explain why women need choice.

The afternoon and evening are punctuated by radio interviews culminating in a late-night debate with a naive young man who insists that abortion is damaging to women. I wonder if he's considered how damaging it is to force a woman to endure pregnancy and childbirth against her will.

FRIDAY: Coverage is great but the Daily Mail, which is usually obsessed with abortion, hasn't covered it at all. Predictably the anti-abortion response is that the phrasing of questions affects the results. And so it might. If we had massaged the questions we might have got an even better response. But I'd rather know the areas where public acceptance of abortion is weakest so that we can make a more convincing case. After this week, I'm convinced that the only figure that needs a massage is mine.

Ann Furedi is director of the Birth Control Trust.

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