Abortion rights activists plan protest in Melbourne

The rally is demanding free, safe and unrestricted abortion on demand for all women across Australia. Photo: Peter Boyle

Abortion rights activists will mobilise in Melbourne on October 12 to oppose threats to women’s access to abortion from the federal government and anti-choice groups.

The rally, to be held at the steps of the Victorian parliament, is a counter-rally to the annual "March for the Babies", which will be staged on the same day.

Pro-choice activists will also protest the controversial "Zoe’s law", currently under debate in the NSW parliament.

The "March for Babies" has been held annually since abortion was legalised in Victoria in 2008. It calls for abortion to again be made a criminal act.

Counter-rally spokesperson Jacinda Woodhead said: "While abortion is usually treated as a state-by-state issue, access can also be threatened via changes to Medicare under the Tony Abbott government. And Abbott is known to be anti-choice.”

Zoe’s Law was introduced into parliament by Liberal MP Chris Spence.

"Abortion remains under the criminal code in NSW," says Woodhead. "Establishing a legal precedent where a foetus is recognised as a human being from 20 weeks reinforces the notion that foetuses are separate entities to a pregnant woman, with all the rights that entails. This is a precedent that could be used to prevent late-term abortions, and a tactic that could be used to get a foot in the door for anti-choice legislation.

"We believe that whether or not a pregnancy continues at any stage is always the woman’s choice – she is the only person who intimately knows her life and its circumstances, and whether she can bring a child into the world. We do not accept a world where women are mere incubators, or of secondary concern in a pregnancy.’

The rally is demanding free, safe and unrestricted abortion on demand for all women across Australia; full reproductive freedoms for all women; free contraception; and a reversing of the Julia Gillard government cuts to the single parenting payment, so that women can choose to support their families.

It opposes the anti-choice lobby’s ambition to restrict women in seeking safe abortion and for shaming women seeking abortion, and legal debates around "personhood" bills which grant autonomous rights to foetuses.

"While abortion in Victoria is legal and safe this is also a national health issue. Even now, abortion is only legal in Victoria, WA and the ACT – and has various restrictions placed on it by these states and territories," said Woodhead.

[The rally will take place at 12.30pm on Saturday October 12, at parliament house in Melbourne. Visit the Facebook page for more information.]

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