Rallies call for repeal of abortion laws

Perth abortion rights rally. Photo by Alex Bainbridge.

One hundred people rallied in Sydney on October 9 in solidarity with a young Cairns couple charged with abortion-related offences under Queensland’s 1899 criminal code. The court case begins on October 12, and the couple will be supported by a vigil outside.

The rally was organised by the Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC) as part of a national day of action coordinated by ProChoice Action Collective Qld: WAAC NSW: and Radical Women Vic. It called for the repeal of all abortion laws from the criminal code and for free, safe and accessible abortion.

Many people believe abortion is legal, but it remains in the criminal code in Queensland and New South Wales, although common law rulings have allowed for “lawful” abortions when a woman’s mental or physical health is deemed to be at risk.

Marg Kirkby from WAAC told the rally abortion was not a crime and it was important to show solidarity with the young couple who facing jail time (the woman faces seven years and her partner three years) under archaic laws, which should not exist.

Many women have fought for the right to choose abortion, but these rights are under attack and must be defended, Kirkby added.

Opinion polls show that around 80% of Australians support legal abortion.

Forty people protested in Adelaide, 150 rallied in the rain in Brisbane, and there was a 250-strong rally in Melbourne. Crowds vowed to continue the campaign in the face of growing Christian right, anti-choice campaigns.

The day before, 40 people had rallied in Perth.

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