Tag Archives: abortion

Get your marching shoes on

On Sunday, I will be marching for my right to control my own body.

We only have a few weeks left. Next month, the NSW Upper House will vote on the Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2013 (No. 2). It gives a foetus (20 weeks or more) the same legal rights as a person.

For background, in 2009 Justine Hampson was driving under the influence of drugs when she hit Brodie Donegan, who was 32 weeks pregnant. The child (Zoe) was stillborn as a result of Donegan’s injuries. Hampson was convicted for causing grievous bodily harm to Donegan, including the loss of her foetus, and jailed for nine months. At the time, Donegan seemed to accept the result, but grief is a funny thing. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a child, but I do know what it’s like to lose a baby sibling, and that grief fills up all the spaces in a room.

It is understandable that Donegan and her husband Nick Ball want their loss acknowledged. But this is a bad law. That Fred Nile drafted the first version in Zoe’s name without even speaking to the family makes me pretty damn sure that their loss is being exploited by people who want to remove women’s rights.

The Australian Medical Association, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Family Planning NSW, Women’s Health NSW, Domestic Violence NSW, Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, NSW Bar Association, The Law Society, the National Foundation for Australian Women, Reproductive Choice Australia, and the Women Lawyers Association are all against the bill. They say it’s unnecessary and may harm a woman’s access to an abortion after 24-weeks – usually carried out for quite serious reasons. As Sarah Krasnostein writes, this affects:

Those who are in denial or too traumatised to find out because the pregnancy resulted from rape, from incest. Those too young to know the signs. Those who have a mental illness or an intellectual disability and do not understand that they are pregnant.

But it’s not always a question of not knowing. There are those who know too much. Who must make an excruciating choice after test results diagnosing severe foetal abnormality. For instance, the test for Anencephaly happens at 15-20 weeks. Babies with this neural tube defect are born without a forebrain and the remaining tissue exposed. If not stillborn, they die shortly after.

The proposed law has an exemption for medical procedures, but according to Women’s Legal Services NSW, that will be open to interpretation. Keep in mind that abortion in NSW is a crime for women AND doctors, unless the doctor believes the woman’s physical and/or mental health is in serious danger. Faced with this new law, it’s easy to imagine doctors becoming reluctant to perform medical procedures that are legal.

For more info on the legal ramifications, read this excellent piece by law lecturer Hannah Robert:

Once the foetus is defined as a legal person, the law has a direct relationship with it, and the mother’s consent becomes irrelevant. She becomes invisible in the eyes of the law, despite the physical realities of pregnancy meaning that any interaction with the foetus necessarily involves her.

Chilling, isn’t it? As far as the law is concerned, once you get halfway through a pregnancy, you are irrelevant.

This great piece at Hoyden about Town lists some of the potential problems, such as compromising medical care, coercion, and prosecuting pregnant women who don’t follow dietary guidelines.

Make no mistake, this bill is about moving us closer to making it impossible for women to access safe abortion. Women’s Legal Services NSW called the bill “a clear attempt to undermine women’s rights by changing the legal status of a foetus”. Please read that WLS piece, because it deals with the current law, and the emotive and incorrect language of the proposed bill.

In the US, foetal personhood laws are being used to stop women accessing safe abortions and even emergency contraception. Republicans have tried a few times to change the law so that when a man rapes a woman, resulting in pregnancy, that woman is forced to continue the pregnancy and have the baby. They’ve also tried to legalise the murder of doctors who perform abortions. And they are running a war on contraception. Think that won’t happen here? Albury pharmacist Simon Horsfall tells women that if they’re buying the pill so they don’t get pregnant, they should go elsewhere because he doesn’t believe in contraception. He doesn’t sell condoms or the morning-after pill. Melbourne pharmacist Stephen Mulqueeny also refuses to sell the morning-after pill because of his religious beliefs. I have no doubt that there are many more pharmacists who refuse to sell these legal products. (Not that these products are good enough. The majority of abortions in Australia are the result of contraception failure – about sixty per cent of women were using at least one form of contraception at the time.) The Victorian Premier Denis Napthine is willing to remove women’s rights in order to do deals with Geoff Shaw, the MP holding the balance of power. Shaw is an evangelical Christian. The first two things he wants to do are to make late-term abortions illegal, and to remove the legal requirement for a doctor who is a conscientious objector to abortion to refer patients to a doctor without an objection. If he gets those two things, you know he won’t stop there. Having religious/conservative politicians who want to control the bodies of every single woman in Australia is one thing, but it’s disgusting that we have so many other male politicians who are willing to trade away women’s rights to do deals on infrastructure and asset sales. And people like Fred Nile and John Madigan are rubbing their hands with glee.

In November, the bill passed in the Lower House 63 to 26. Here is a list of those MPs who voted for and against it. It goes to the Upper House in March. We don’t have a lot of time.

This is why I’ll be at the protest tomorrow. See you at midday at Martin Place.

Update: Restricting our access to safe abortion is not an unintended consequence of this bill, it is THE intended consequence. Zoe’s Law is not an accident.

Update: You can email your MP here. Debate on the Bill in the Legislative Council starts at 10am on Thursday 6th March. MPs who oppose this Bill said it helps if we’re there. See you then.

Ah, that old excuse

Apparently it’s ok to say something stupid and offensive if others said it first. According to Steve Fielding, that is: Others said it first: Fielding defends abortion loophole remark:

“I wasn’t the only one to raise this issue in the Senate yesterday.”

But Senator Fielding, when pressed to name the other senators, could not come up with any names.

Normally I can’t stand Christopher Pyne, but he makes a good point:

Senior Liberal Christopher Pyne said Senator Fielding’s position defied logic because welfare recipients were not eligible for the scheme.

“That points to an attempt to gain attention to his political campaign for re-election.”

Of course, Pyne would know all about using others for political gain.

And I missed this in Fielding’s comments yesterday, but clearly Ol’ Fieldyfield is bonkers:

“It is a policy that gives money to prisoners and prostitutes but ignores stay-at-home mums and the important unpaid work that they do.”

Um, what? Is he saying that female prisoners are getting pregnant in women-only jails and having babies? That sounds pretty unlikely. And are prostitutes getting pregnant at work? That also sounds pretty unlikely. And, of course, there’s the moral judgement that “stay-at-home mums” are more important than prostitutes and women in jail for any number of reasons. Wonder how he’ll fare at the next election? As Damien “I’m the new Annabel Crabb in the SMH” Murphy points out, 99.08 per cent of Victorians didn’t vote for him.

Fielding shows his colours

Is there nothing those scheming aborting women won’t do to rort taxpayers? Well, that’s what Family First Senator Steve Fielding seems to think: Fielding says parental leave open to abortion rort:

The paid parental leave legislation, which is being debated in the Senate, allows for women who have stillbirths to claim the payment.

During debate, Senator Fielding raised concerns that some “drug addicts” or “welfare cheats” could deliberately fall pregnant, then have an abortion after 20 weeks and rort the system in order to be eligible for payments.

“Drug addicts and welfare cheats can go out there and get themselves pregnant and then after 20 weeks have an abortion and still pocket the Government’s cash,” he said.

Ooh, make that drug-addicted, scheming, aborting, welfare-cheating women.

Steve Fielding, I award you the Tony Abbott Budgie Smuggler award for Excellence in the Field of Misogyny.

Everything is Germaine Greer’s fault, apparently

Did you hear? It’s feminism’s fault that teens get pregnant in the UK. And whereas in the past a woman could make men pay for sex with “the ball and chain” of marriage, today men don’t have to marry the women they impregnate, and that’s somehow feminism’s fault.

And apparently the woman to blame for ruining the very fabric of UK society is Germaine Greer.

Quentin Letts is one angry dude. And confused. First he blames Greer for men shaving their heads, then he blames EastEnders. Then he says he wouldn’t trust a dentist or a doctor with a shaved head. Huh?

Somehow “We have become a nation of hard-ball hedonists, groin scratchers, beer-bellied burpers in armpit vests” means the “destruction of feminine modesty and decency”.

He goes on:

While the Princes set a crass example to other young men of their age, women no longer leave the hell-raising simply to the boys. They join in, trying to match their men mojito for mojito. They have lost the centuries-old idea of being demure in public. The sort of slender-lipped, self-questioning, hesitant lover played by Celia Johnson in David Lean’s 1945 film Brief Encounter is now found only in recently arrived immigrant families.

The native British girls have become fat-faced ‘ladettes’, goose pimples rising on the skin of their exposed thighs as they clack-clack-clack along the pavement en route to the weekend disco, destination bonk. If they are really lucky, perhaps they will bed a prince.

Older generations would call these women ‘slappers’ – and they would be right. Before the night is out, some of them will be bending over a storm drain, puking, weeping, wailing ‘e don’t love me!’ before passing out under some sulphurous street lamp.

Sigh. Yet another man telling women what to do.

Women drink because they are trying to show how free they are. Here, sisters, is an unwelcome dividend of female emancipation.

Really? I thought women drink so they can’t smell vaginas.

They are expected to get as plastered as the blokes and any girl who sticks to a nice pineapple juice will be unfairly mocked as ‘frigid’.

So, it’s unfair to mock someone as frigid, but perfectly ok to call them a slapper in a national newspaper?

In a century we have gone from an over-genteel society which covered table legs to the other extreme in which girls publicise their sexual availability by wearing T-shirts baring their flab-mottled bellies. Four hundred years ago William Shakespeare depicted this type with his ‘country copulatives’ in As You Like It. There was one difference. In Shakespeare’s day the gap-toothed country girl offering easy pleasure would later exact her price – the ball and chain of marriage. And so women have been denied the financial and romantic security which came with marital vows. Women’s lib gave men an excuse not to make a commitment and many of them promptly took it.

Again, let’s blame women for the way some men act. Indeed, Letts later blames feminism for the rise in violence against women. Because, as we all know, violence against women didn’t happen before feminism. And it’s all Greer’s fault:

One woman who must bear some of the blame is Germaine Greer, the freckled Sheila who came to Britain in the early 1960s in search of fame, fortune and most of all headlines. To her, feminism was about a declaration of sexual power and she began arguing that case in newspapers, books and on the airwaves. Women had to assert their sexual hunger in order to claim their rightful place alongside the hump-and-dump men.

She seized up and discarded men like a tramp investigating old sandwich wrappers in a municipal rubbish bin. It was her prerogative as a woman so to do. Women had the right to misbehave.

Miss Greer by flaunting her bosoms and spitting out men as disposable sex objects, may have created a lucrative career for herself. She may have enabled women to cast aside horridly uncomfortable 1960s brassieres, instruments of near medieval torture. There was, though, a price to pay. One consequence of her convention- shattering ways was a destruction of modesty and decency.

And then there’s more pompous blah blah about how single mothers can’t raise well-balanced children; that because of Greer and the feminists the UK Government “changed benefit rules to make it advantageous to be a single mother”; that feminist orthodoxy is contrary to common sense; and that it’s Greer’s fault there are teen pregnancies, abortion and STDs in the UK.

Like I said, Quentin Letts is one angry and confused dude. He’s flogging his book, Bog-Standard Britain. Bet it’s a fascinating read.

Update: We mixed our drinks has written a great piece on how much Letts reviles women.

Anna Bligh, it’s time

Anna Bligh, it’s time to decriminalise abortion in Queensland. Heck, it’s time everywhere. But now we’ve got a teenager and her 21-year-old boyfriend facing trial for using illegally imported RU486 to terminate a pregnancy. Why they did this instead of going to a doctor, I don’t know, but at this point it doesn’t really matter. Tegan Simone Leach, who is only 19, could spend seven years in jail. Her boyfriend, Sergie Brennan, could be in for 14 years.

Removing abortion from the criminal code was flagged by the Bligh Government in 2007, yet still nothing has happened. In October that year, Anna Bligh told the Courier-Mail: “I have been on the public record a number of times on this issue and I believe that those decisions are best made by a woman, her partner and her doctor and they are ultimately private decisions. If . . . there was a Bill in the Parliament to decriminalise it, I would support such a Bill, but I have no intention of introducing such a Bill.”

In August this year, The Australian reported that the draft legislation was ready. So what’s the hold up?

I don’t buy the pro-lifer argument. If you disagree with terminating a pregnancy then don’t do it. Likewise with stem cell research – if you have a moral objection then choose not to benefit from the research. Why should one small group’s religious beliefs dictate what the rest of a secular society can do?

Now, where can I get one of Kerry Nettle’s “Get your rosaries off my ovaries” t-shirts?

The real tragedy is that it’s criminal

Let me get this straight. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said it’s a “tragedy” that women may have to go to another state to terminate a pregnancy, but that abortion will not be decriminalised?

Anna Bligh has assured concerned MPs that a Bill to clarify the legality of drug-induced abortions is not a veiled attempt to decriminalise abortion…

Reports of a 24-year-old woman awaiting abortion of her severely malformed 19-week foetus were “a tragedy”, Ms Bligh said.

“I don’t want any woman who is in these sorts of circumstances to have to travel to another state,” she said.

No Anna, it’s a tragedy that abortion is still in the Criminal Code.