It probably isn’t a surprise that Wikipedia has a page on Clothes hangers.  On it I learn that the the shoulder-shaped wire hanger was invented around 1870 in the USA, though it cites three different claims for its genesis. You can also find there about its role in the 1981 film Mommie Dearest, in which Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford screams the line “No wire hangers, ever!” and its other film roles, as well as the many uses to which these simple twisted wire hangers have been put.

One of which is of course back street abortions. And Dunaway’s line (which according to Wikipedia “quickly worked its way into pop culture” but never before made my acquaintance) would have been a very appropriate slogan for the protest at the Spanish Embassy against the proposed new laws in Spain to get rid of the laws which for the past 30 years have allowed abortions under similar restrictions to those in the UK and deny the right of women to access safe and legal abortion.

Spanish women and their British supporters were protesting with the slogan ‘My Belly is Mine‘ and were using decorated coat hangers  as a symbol of their protest, so naturally these ‘belly-hangers‘ were going to play a central role in my images from the event, though there were some at the protest that would probably have been little use to the back street illegal operator.

The belly-hangers were collected in and taken in a box across the road, together with messages from the women, to the embassy. There was a conversation on the entry-phone and the women were told to wait. Then another conversation and they were told to leave the box on the step, and they did so, taking a few belly-hangers to hang on the fence outside. Five minutes later a police officer came back to the women bearing the box of belly-hangers, but nobody would take them back.

I expect they just went into the police station dustbin, but it would be nice to think that somewhere inside the police station an officer was hanging up his jacket on top of the decorated message ‘No More‘.

Story and more pictures at Bellyhangers to keep Abortion Legal


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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