The South Australian Feminist Collective (SAFC) brings together feminists from different backgrounds. It holds regular meetings and forums on issues relating to women in Australia today. The collective held a forum on reproductive rights last month, which focussed on the current legislation concerning abortion in South Australia. Abortion is still on the criminal code in South Australia.
The speakers included SAFC member Tina Namow, along with a doctor working in reproductive health and a woman involved in providing abortion access for women in South Australia. These speakers provided an important insight into the effects of current legislation regarding abortion.
The abortion doctor discussed the practical implications of having to meet the requirements for abortion access, which say abortion is available only when continuing with the pregnancy would demonstrably endanger one’s physical or mental health. Two doctors must confirm this, and a “conscientious objector” clause allows anyone potentially involved in the procedure to abstain on moral grounds. This clause is a particular issue for women in rural areas, where there may be only one nurse or anaesthetist.
The law also requires abortions to be performed in hospitals — something that in the past helped improve women’s safety, but is now a hindrance given the availability of non-surgical abortions, such as the drug RU486.
Namow shared her experiences of campaigning for abortion rights over several decades.