Pro-choice campaigners target premier's events

Issue 

Women and men have been picketing events at which Queensland Premier Anna Bligh speaks. They are protesting against Bligh's refusal to have her attorney-general drop criminal charges against a Cairns couple for allegedly procuring an abortion.

The rally demanded the charges be dropped and access to abortion be made free, safe and legal.

Abortion remains on Queensland's criminal code and Bligh, once an activist for women's rights, now believes it should stay there.

Pickets have taken place at inner-Brisbane events — a book launch on November 6 and a community meeting on November 17. At both events, people passing by supported the picketers.

Initially, Bligh tried to divert attention from the young couple's criminal charges by claiming they were not related to abortion but to the alleged importation of an unlawful drug.

But sections 225 and 226 of the criminal code, under which the couple are being charged, relate specifically to procuring abortion. They have nothing to do with importing drugs.

Then Bligh said she would not reform anti-abortion laws because abortion was "a matter between a woman and her doctor". But how can it be a private matter when it's contained in the Criminal Code?

Finally, Bligh said she would not support reforming the law because she could not guarantee her own Labor MPs would support the decriminalisation of abortion. Repeal of the abortion laws has been Labor policy for decades — it was affirmed as recently as June.

[The next picket of a Bligh speaking engagement will be held on December 2. See calendar on page 23 for details.]