Abortion rights group formed in ACT

March 25, 1998

By Nikki Ulasowski and Amanda Lawrence

CANBERRA— Following the charging of two Perth doctors and calls by feminists for the repeal of all abortion laws, ACT Pro-Choice has been formed in Canberra. The group hopes to build on the work of former pro-choice groups which successfully campaigned for a fertility clinic here, established in 1992.

Recent events in the ACT have highlighted the need for a pro-choice campaign. First, Wayne Berry, former Labor leader in the Legislative Assembly has prepared legislation to decriminalise abortion and is considering submitting it as a private member's bill.

More recently, an edition of the Australian National University student newspaper Woroni published a Right to Life-inspired article featuring graphic photos of aborted foetuses which has outraged many students.

On March 19, as part of a pro-choice awareness campaign, the ANU Women's Department organised a public "rip-out" of the pages concerned. ANU women's officer Kate Harriden told Green Left Weekly, "This year [Woroni] appears to be continuing the same type of inappropriate representations of women as last year." Last year, Woroni produced a front cover article titled "No Fat Chicks".

"Woroni is bound to the constitution of the ANU Students Association. This means it has to adopt a non-racist, non-sexist and non-homophobic stance", explained Harriden.

A letter of opposition to the anti-abortion article has been signed by more than 70 people. According to Woroni's policy, all letters received must be printed in the next edition.

ACT Pro-Choice is organising a speak-out in Civic at 12 noon on April 4, and a public meeting at 7pm on April 29. For more information or to get involved in the campaign telephone (02) 6247 2424.

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