The Socialist Alliance candidate for Reid, Lisa Macdonald, called on August 6 for abortion to be removed from all state's criminal codes and health acts. She was responding to the comments by federal health minister Tony Abbott which indicate he wants to limit the availability of abortion.
"As long as this simple medical procedure remains covered by archaic laws (such as various state's crimes acts), women are more vulnerable to the whims of politicians who believe they have a god-given right to decide what we should do with our bodies", said Macdonald.
Abbott is on record as describing the rate of abortion in Australia as a national tragedy. He believes that teenagers have a promiscuous attitude towards sex implying, incorrectly, that it is this age group which are having the most abortions.
"We are concerned about Abbott's moves to limit our access to abortion rights. He is being backed by some powerful people — including the Catholic Archbishop George Pell", said Macdonald. "Under the guise of getting a discussion into the open, these people are really trying to turn the clock back for women."
She said the women's liberationists were not afraid of a such a discussion. "We have been struggling for this right in a very public way for decades! The fact is that a majority of people today just do not agree with the misnamed Right to Lifers that putting the so-called rights of a foetus ahead of the rights of women is an advance.
"Abbott seems to have been spurred on in his crusade after having tried, but failed, to stop the marketing of the morning after pill, Postinor-2, in June. He is also using the ABC's August 8 screening of the controversial documentary My Foetus, which includes footage of an abortion, as the backdrop to his campaign."
She accused Abbott of "loading on all sorts of emotional baggage to a medical procedure which should be the private business of a woman and her doctor".
"The notion that women are taking the 'easy option' when they seek an abortion is rubbish", said Macdonald. "Every woman has the right to decide what to do with her body, and she must be given the necessary support to assist her in that decision.
"Women have fought long and hard for this right. Now Abbott has made it clear that we have more fighting to do. If Abbott really did give a damn about women's health, he would not be cutting funding from women's services, child-care and Medicare, and eroding job security — all factors which weigh in the decision about whether or not to proceed with a pregnancy.
"We refuse to go back to the bad old days. The Socialist Alliance remains committed to ensuring that every woman can exercise her right to a free and safe abortion without harassment or legal restriction. We are campaigning for abortion to be made available without restrictions through the public health-care system."
From Green Left Weekly, August 11, 2004.
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