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Chills ran down my spine last week when I heard a speech by novelist and writer Allison Pearson, in which she outlined how pregnant women hoping to give birth in a Peterborough maternity unit face almost third-world conditions on arrival. "It's so bad that women are labouring in the corridors," she said. "One midwife told me she had to put her ladies' legs up in stirrups and leave them to get on with it by themselves because they didn't have enough staff. It's absolutely horrendous."

This is just one of many reasons why Allison will be voting to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum. "When those who want to remain in the EU mention the economic benefits of EU migrant workers, I think of another kind of labour," she went on to explain. "I think of frightened women left on their own because there aren't enough midwives. I think of pregnant women with a rapidly dilating cervix sent 35 miles in search of a safe place to give birth."

Allison wasn't exaggerating. Last year, half of all maternity units in the UK turned away women in labour as they had no beds. Some units have been shut to new births for two whole days. Leeds NHS Trust turned away women in labour 220 times in a single year. Can you imagine being in the pain of labour, frightened for yourself and your unborn baby, turning up to give birth and being told: "Sorry, we're full?"

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This is just one of the horrific downsides for women of Britain being a member of the EU. Around 257,000 EU nationals came to live in Britain in the 12 months leading up to September 2015, and it's been much the same story ever since 2004. Maternity units built for 2,000 mothers a year have to now cater for over 5,000 and they simply can't cope. Even when you've had your baby, the problems caused by uncontrolled EU migration don't stop there.

Want to find a school place for your kids close to home? Good luck with that. England is already short of 250,000 primary school places and 100,000 children have just missed out of their first choice of secondary school. The National Audit Office has admitted high levels of migration are the main cause.

Our schools and hospitals are in crisis thanks to the EU. Meanwhile, every week, we send more than £350m (€452m) over to Brussels: half of England's schools budget and enough to build a brand new, fully equipped, fully staffed hospital. That is the extortionate price of just one week's EU membership.

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A Kurdish Syrian woman stands amongst the ruins of in the town of Kobane, Syria.Getty Images

Those two reasons alone would be enough to persuade me to vote to leave the EU, but they are just the tip of a whole iceberg of reasons women have to get out.

Take the EU's immigration and asylum policy. What unimaginable hardship is it causing for women in war-torn and developing nations? An open invitation to Europe courtesy of Angela Merkel has encouraged hundreds of thousands of mostly young, able men to travel to Europe, in the process abandoning women and children who will subsequently be left alone to care for children and the sick, in the middle of conflict zones, and put at risk of sexual assault, homelessness and starvation.

And who can forget the reports of harassment and sexual assault by migrants in Germany, Austria, Sweden and Finland? More recently, there have been reports of attacks on children at swimming pools in Belgium and Austria, and this week police in Cologne arrested six men – five of them refugees – for a suspected sex attack on a 12-year-old girl at a city swimming pool. The principle of free movement of people has also given cover to criminal trafficking gangs, who are now able to operate far more freely across Europe.

The EU is culpable for all of this: women's security is being put at dire risk as a direct result of its warped thinking and disastrous policy making.

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It's ironic, given all this, that the Remainers will tell you women's rights are at risk if we leave the EU. The UK has always been way ahead of the EU on women's rights. The first Equal Pay Act in Britain was pioneered by the first female minister of state, Barbara Castle, and signed three years before we joined the EU. The UK also passed the Abortion Act, the Divorce Reform Act and made the contraceptive pill free on the NHS before we joined.

We passed the Sex Discrimination Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Employment Protection Act and Margaret Thatcher became the UK's first female PM, all without any help from the EU.

The EU lags behind the UK on women's rights: FGM has been illegal in Britain since 1985, but the EU only passed legislation in 2012. We have far better maternity and child care provision in this country than anything Brussels has legislated for.

Ultimately, if we vote to remain, we risk losing control of laws like these, as well as facing delays on important legislation as other member nations haggle over details. Who would you rather lobby for your rights? Your MP, or a faceless unelected Eurocrat who does not give a damn what you think, as he or she is not accountable to you?

The huge weight of EU directives and legislation on business also impacts on women, who tend to run small businesses and have neither the money nor the time to lobby Brussels as big business can. It's also women who've felt the injustice of EU laws like the Temporary Agency Workers' Directive. How many thousands of women who worked part-time, or did agency work to fit around their family life, have found themselves forced onto zero hours contracts as a result of this legislation?

Despite the fact everyone knows we are safer drivers than men, women now pay more for car insurance thanks to a European Court of Justice ruling banning price discrimination on gender. Cheaper car insurance for women has been consigned to history, thanks to the male-dominated EU.

The EU's influence extends into our lives so far that even the cost of our sanitary products is dictated to us. Under EU law, tampons are considered to be 'luxury' items, so we have to pay VAT on them. Just how bonkers is it that our government is powerless to act to abolish the ridiculous Tampon Tax?

An independent Britain would be capable of achieving far more for women than we are currently allowed to achieve under EU law. Britain has a feminist history we can be proud of and one that can only continue to develop outside of the EU. It is staying in that is the truly risky, and potentially very gloomy, option for women.


Suzanne Evans is Ukip's parliamentary spokesperson and a board member of Women for Britain, the leave campaign for all women who believe the UK will thrive as a free and independent nation outside the EU.