Meeting discusses abortion law campaign
By Tracy Sorensen
SYDNEY — A meeting of pro-choice organisations and individuals has decided to test support for a campaign for the repeal of the state's abortion laws. A workshop to map out strategy for the campaign will be held within two months.
While some 40,000 women have abortions each year in NSW, laws forbidding the procedure remain in the state's Crimes Act. Women can lawfully have abortions under a liberal interpretation of these provisions set out by Justice Levine in 1972.
An interpretation closer to the spirit of the law, as advocated by anti-abortion upper house MP Fred Nile, continues to represent a danger to women's right to choose.
Women's Abortion Action Campaign representative Deb Sorensen said that a series of attacks on abortion rights locally and internationally — the most recent in NSW being Nile's attempt to close down free-standing abortion clinics last year — had made it necessary to take positive action, rather than continue to act defensively.
WAAC proposed a coalition of pro-choice groups to work on a repeal campaign.
Labor MP Sandra Nori said that if a repeal bill were presented "tomorrow" it would fail for lack of support, but "that doesn't mean we can't get the ball rolling". MPs in marginal seats would have to be convinced of the level of community support for women's right to choose.
Wendy McCarthy, long associated with contraception and abortion services in NSW, said that "the energies of people providing the services can't be pushed to the limit all the time" by continued attacks on abortion.
Lisa Schofield, a representative of the newly formed Wollongong Abortion Rights Campaign, said her group had initiated a statewide petition campaign for abortion law repeal.