South Australia: New attack on abortion rights

Issue 

In South Australia, where abortion is still legally considered a crime under the Criminal Act, women do not have the legal right to make their own reproductive choices. What we have now is tenuous and limited access to abortions through an underfunded healthcare system.

Now, this access is under attack. Family First MP Robert Brokenshire has introduced into the SA upper house the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (Registration of Still-Births) Amendment Bill (also known as Jayden’s Law), which will be put to a vote on May 16.

Jayden’s Law seeks to reduce the gestation period that miscarriages become classified as stillbirths from 20 weeks to 12.

The law’s proponents claim its only aim is to alleviate the suffering of grieving women who experience a miscarriage before 20 weeks and under current laws are not able to access a birth certificate or burial rights. But the South Australia Feminist Collective (SAFC) sees Jayden’s Law for what it is: a sneaky attempt to introduce a regressive reform that can later be used to roll back women’s right to an abortion under the guise of what might otherwise seem a reasonable attempt to respond to the needs of some women.

In the face of this attack, feminists across South Australia are seeking to protect women’s rights.

Women’s rights are not given to us. They have to be won by us. The South Australian Parliament did not just give women the right to vote in 1895. Parliament was forced to give women the vote after the suffrage movement fought a long, hard struggle for it over many years.

Women were not given the right to equal pay. We have had to fight for decades to achieve every victory and there remains an unjustifiable wage gap between the genders today.

Women will not just be given the right to free, safe, accessible abortion either. Abortion is legal in all states when the life and health of the mother is in danger, but any definition beyond this varies from state to state.

Abortion remains on the criminal code in all but two states in Australia. Under these laws, a woman or a doctor can be prosecuted and face a lengthy prison sentence for transgressing often unclear and anachronistic statutes.

The winning of rights for women is not a one-time deal. It is a process — a process of vigilance and the maintenance of a clear voice stating the position of women who simply want the right to make choices for themselves, to retain bodily integrity and to uphold the right to determine what happens to their body.

The right to legal abortion in South Australia can be won only by a community-based campaign organised by women and men who understand its importance and who are willing to fight for it.

This is something the SAFC is committed to.

On May 10, 50 people attended an SAFC public forum on abortion rights. The speakers — Greens state MP Tammy Franks, Flinders University associate professor in Gender Studies Barbara Baird and myself, representing SAFC — discussed the legal, historical and political context in which Jayden’s Law must be viewed.

Participants at the forum were sympathetic to the needs of women who had experienced a miscarriage or a stillbirth — and strongly believe that they should be accorded respect and allowed the dignity to follow the rituals and procedures they feel are needed to grieve.

However, it was unanimously felt that there must be a way to recognise and acknowledge this grief without affecting the rights of all women. There was a call from the forum for an ongoing campaign to decriminalise abortion in South Australia.

The SAFC is not just opposed to Jayden’s Law, which will lay the groundwork for future attacks on the existing access to abortion in South Australia. We are for the decriminalisation of abortion, so that all women can have access to free and safe abortion without fear or limitations.

We are for increased funding and services for women who do choose to have children. We are for increased support for women who lose a wanted pregnancy, at any stage of gestation. We are for free, safe contraception on demand.

We are for granting women the dignity to grieve a lost pregnancy in the way they see fit, and for a wider recognition in general of the respect that deserves to be given to this process.

We understand that we will not achieve these demands simply by asking for them. We have to win them by organising and campaigning.

Moving forward with the campaign against Jayden’s Law, the SAFC is organising a petition, which thus far and after only two weeks has more than 1000 signatures. This will be presented to Parliament before the vote on May 16.

At noon on May 15, a protest will be held on the steps of Parliament House to demonstrate the strong public opposition to Jayden’s Law.

There is a reason these attacks against women’s rights are made quietly, in incremental steps, hidden under an otherwise reasonable guise. Those who seek to undermine the rights of women, and the rights of all people to determine their own bodily experience do so deliberately. For they know that to do so openly would mean immediate failure.

They know that the Australian public will not allow the rights we have gained to be taken away in the light of day. This is our best weapon. We must bring these underhanded attempts out into the public sphere and name them for what they are.

If you believe a woman has the right to make her own reproductive choices and that these choices should be supported, I strongly encourage you to join SAFC and get involved in the ongoing struggle to win full reproductive rights for women in South Australia.

Those who oppose rights for women might be strong, but there is no question that we are stronger. And if we fight, we will win.

[SAFC will protest Jayden’s Law at noon, May 15, Parliament House. The next meeting of the SAFC will take place at 2pm on May 19 at Adelaide University. Email safeministcollective@gmail.com for more details.]



Comments

To protest against Jaydens Law is a protest AGAINST womens rights. Jaydens Law seeks to CREATE rights for women. Under Jaydens Law any loss before 20 weeks will STILL BE DEFINED AS A MISCARRIAGE!! Jaydens Law will give mothers the CHOICE to apply for a birth certificate. Please understand that a second trimester loss involves labour and birth of that mothers very much loved and wanted child.

You have completely got that all wrong, Jaydens law is not put in place to take away any rights but to introduce more, you think by trying to stop this law they will all give up NO THEY WON'T! All those families that have lost their much wanted babies, are feeling pain and all they are asking for is their angel babies to be recognised, as they are in every way a part of someone's family. I think you have taken this to far and have't looked at what Jaydens law is all about hard enough! This makes me so friggen angry I hope you get nowhere with what you are trying to achieve, because all I can see is everyone apart of SAFC is being selfish and not allowing others to rights they deserve with no 'hidden gender' :@ all they want is for their beautiful babies to be recognised I didn't think that would be too much to ask for, instead you are worried about peoples rights to having An abortion when half of them don't have medical reasons to doing it just stupidity and don't want to carry through with a pregnancy. This angers me!!

What a load of biased rubbish! Those that oppose Jaydens law seek to limit women and grieving families rights. This proposed law does not affect abortion laws one bit.

The Law Society of South Australia wrote that they saw massive problems with the wording of Jayden's Law, the fact that the registrar had to register a birth if the mother so wanted and that there could be future ramifications from such a bill, they also stated that the medical community should have been consulted about such a bill. These facts and the moving forward of the bill by 4 months shows that Family First is trying to push this bill through as fast as they can, regardless of it's consequences. Noone is saying that the women who are for this bill have a hidden agenda, Family First does! A distinction needs to be made between the two groups. Also AbortSA have come out in support of this bill as well, that does not bode well that this bill is not about abortion rights. I wish people had come to the South Australian Feminist Collective forum last week and they would have seen the sincere desire to get a bill that gives grieving mothers legal recognition of their birth (whatever that may be, Tammy Franks from the Greens is currently looking at legal options and will put forward one that is legally/medically sound once she is given proper advice). I don't understand what motivation people from the Feminist Collective would have to hate grieving mothers, they said time and time again that they want a bill that gives grieving mothers legal recognition of this birth, just not this particular bill! There must be a reason why the Greens and the Dignity for disabled mp's are against this bill also, it is not just some 'feminist vendetta' against grieving mothers.

While Jayden's law might not have an immediate impact on availability of abortion in the second trimester, it will only require a minor amendment in the future to effectively make second trimester abortion unobtainable for many women. Given Family First's stated opposition to abortion, one has to consider this a very real possibility. As the author writes, if an anti-choice politician tried to pass laws requiring stillbirths to be registered for all second trimester miscarriages and abortions over 12 weeks, they would be surely unsuccessful. However, Jayden's law will only require a slight tweak to place an effective barrier to women who require a second trimester abortion. If other states follow SA's lead, a more conservative state government is very likely to make a certificate mandatory. While this wouldn't ban abortion at this stage, it adds severe barriers and hurdles to overcome by a woman and her doctor. You only need to look at how the USA has gradually stripped women of the right to choose, not by making abortion illegal, but by adding one small impediment after another.

By all means, grieving mums to be should be provided with as much help as possible to aid them in their time of distress, however a piece of paper wont change anything at the end of the day.

I feel it necessary to point out, the situation in america is very different. Over there a woman set out to have recognition of life changed, not the births deaths and marriaged act which is what Mrs Bartsch is campaigning for.

Quite obviously this isnt just a piece of paper or else this argument wouldnt be happening would it???? These parents know a 'a piece of paper' wont change anything, it wont bring their baby back UNFORTUNATELY and it wont take away their pain UNFORTUNATELY, what it will do is give them rights to bury, cremate and say good bye, so they can move forward knowing their baby, who was wanted and loved was treated with respect and dignity and not discarded like rubbish! Im glad you see your rights as more important to these mums rights and are so adamant to keep them locked up in silence while you speak freely about YOUR RIGHTS! Get a heart! You quite clearly do not care for these mums to grieve for their 'lost pregnancy' in the way they see fit as they have openly expressed this is what they want!! Dont dictate others rights to them.....isnt this what your cause is about equality, making your own life choices and decisions and not having society dictate rights to you, fighting discrimination.......well done for completely undermining EVERYTHING about your cause!! Totally Hypocritical!

'By all means, grieving mums to be should be provided with as much help as possible to aid them in their time of distress'
These mums 'time of distress' can last a life time....due dates, birthdays, christmas, easter, mothers day ALL reminders FOREVER, coming home to an empty nursery all set up for their new family member, A CONSTANT REMINDER, breasts filling with milk with no baby to feed CRUEL!! Their 'time of distress' can be more than just a few weeks or months, for some mothers. Saying goodbye and getting closure is vital in ANY LOSS.....but apparently not the loss of someone that everyone else sees as unimportant. You dont get to dictate how these mums get closure, grieve or what rights they should have, and to do so is completely hypocritical!

"what it will do is give them rights to bury, cremate and say good bye"

So why not just legislate to remove any impediments to allow hospitals to transfer miscarried foetuses to funeral services for burial or cremation? This doesn't seem like it would be too difficult to implement without a formal entry in the birth register.

I'm sorry, but you make it pretty clear from the rest of your screaming rant that you don't care if you trample over the hard won reproductive rights of women. Perhaps that's the whole idea as the author suggests.

For anyone who thinks its ok to protest against Jaydens Law, I dont expect you to understand how much it hurts to see other women protest against something that would mean so much to us. You can only really understand if you have travelled this road. You would understand if you had lived through this tragedy. But I hope that you never do. I would NEVER wish this upon anyone.

Whether the pregnancy was planned or an 'oops', once you make the decision to continue the pregnancy, you fall in love. You have an early ultrasound to date the pregnancy and there it is. Your little embryo. Little arms and legs are beginning to form and you make up a nickname for your baby to be. You start to tell close friends and family.

At 12 weeks you have another ultrasound. And you see your BABY. Its exciting and you giggle with your partner at the way baby is jumping and bouncing and kicking its little arms and legs. This is when you tell everyone. You tell your children they will have a baby brother or sister, you post your good news all over facebook. After all, everyone knows that once you're into your second trimester your pregnancy is 'safe'. You only have a 1% chance of miscarriage in the second tri.

Your belly is growing and you start to feel little flutters. Your children talk to their new baby brother or sister through your belly. They ask you 'how big is baby now'. Baby is now the size of an orange! You have started to buy things, a cot, some clothing. After all, its best to start buying now so you don't have huge expenses at the end. You are more and more in love with your little bump and looking forward to finding out if its a pink one or a blue one.

All of a sudden its all over.

An ultrasound technician will say those awful, awful words. "I'm sorry, your baby no longer has a heartbeat". These words will echo in your head forever and ever and ever.

The labour is long and painful. Even though baby is only going to be tiny the labour is every bit as painful as a full term baby. Then you find yourself cradling a tiny but perfect little baby. A little grumpy face, a tiny turned up nose, a beautiful mouth. Silence. You leave the hospital with nothing. You go home and look at your empty basinette, stare at the tiny newborn clothes that will never be worn. Your heart is more broken that you ever thought possible.

This is all a very difficult thing to deal with. Support and counselling is all very well, but we seek out complete strangers, other 'angel mummies' for support. Only one who is on this terrible journey with you can understand.

As the mother of two second trimester losses, the hardest part of all was being told "it was just a miscarriage". To be told that there was no baby, that these tiny beings arent siblings of my children is so painful.

A certificate that acknowledges that we went through labour and gave BIRTH to our babies really does mean so much. It gives our tiny babies a NAME. We can buy a plot in a cemetery and bury our tiny babies with a headstone that states who they were and that they were very much loved. Many hospitals consider these babies as medical waste and they are 'disposed of' with other 'tissue'.

It would help heal my heart so much to have a certificate that states my babies names, that acknowledges that they did indeed exist. To know that in years and years to come when my great great grandchildren are researching their family tree, my two little angel babies names will be found too. When I first heard of Jaydens Law i thought I had finally found the one thing that if passed, would help me to heal. To see other protest against something that would mean to much angers me. I hope you never fully understand, but please try.

because you cant register a burial plot for someone who never existed..........!!! I also would love to know what part of that 'screaming rant' says that they dont care if they trample over hard one reproductive rights.........sound like they were trying to plea to your compassion, not deny your rights like you are trying to do to these families!! and that last comment is just cruel, an extra blow to these families, as if your discrimination towards them isnt enough!!

By referring to Jaydens Law as anti abortion, you have tainted the name of what is a good law! You forget to mention the law society recommends the law be passed with a few tweaks

No, it is completely possible to legislate to remove the impediments without enshrining in law the personhood of foetuses. The anonymous pro-Jayden's law comments comments on this page are hardly "pleas to compassion", but cynical and calculated slanders on the motives of opponents of this dangerous law.

So I understand the tragedy perfectly, but you are cynically manipulating this debate. This law was proposed by a Family First politician, ultra-right, anti-woman and in no way actually interested in how women like us heal.

Rather, there is a sinister intent behind Jayden's law - to progressively grant more legal status to an unborn foetus and undermine the rights of the woman carrying it. Anyone who believes that women should be able to control their bodies and their future must oppose laws that legalise the personhood of a foetus.

I believe this as someone who lost three genuinely wanted pregnancies.

It enrages me that politcians can fool you into dragging up all your emotioms and trauma in the interest of opposing a woman's right to choice, and to a baby's right to be a wanted child.

oh of course.......yes i can clearly see some of those comments that clearly have come from mothers who have lost babies are cynical and calculated.....they sound really nasty asking you not to deny them rights!! you are a cynical, calculated piece of work, using these mothers innocent plea for rights to further your own! this group has infact slandered the hard work of these mothers and publicly humiliated and encouraged discrimination against them.....how would you expect anyone to act towards the 'opponents of this dangerous law' i could guarantee you would have had a lot more people on side(including these mothers, ME INCLUDED) had your methods of opposition been different to this careless, uncompassionate show you have put on! These mothers do not disagree with your fears....they want an outcome to be beneficial for both parties......the way in which you have gone about this though seems to be their problem because it goes completely against what you say you stand for and seems to rub in their face that their rights are less important(when they should be equally important)!!! DONT PREACH TO THESE MOTHERS ABOUT SLANDERING THE MOTIVES..........THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO THEM.....!!!!!

what you need to understand is these babies meant everything to these families (they were wanted), the thought of personhood laws being implemented makes me shiver with fear......these families are not trying to implement that.......they want it to be known that to them that baby(or fetus) meant everything, they were loved, named, birthed and buried.....they did exist (TO THESE FAMILIES) each individual family opinion should have this belief respected wether it be what we agree with or not (not at the cost of someone else rights but along side of) that is what these familes have tried to implement! maybe support for gaining them the rights THEY WANT in a way thats suitable and not threatening is more appropriate than having a victorious party over denying them and completely undermining the innocent rights they wanted to achieve!!

'The anonymous pro-Jayden's law comments comments on this page are hardly "pleas to compassion", but cynical and calculated slanders on the motives of opponents of this dangerous law.'

slandering motives hey............just curious but isnt this what you have done to the motives of Jaydens Law and all their supporters???

'The anonymous pro-Jayden's law comments comments on this page are hardly "pleas to compassion", but cynical and calculated slanders on the motives of opponents of this dangerous law.'

slandering motives hey............isnt this what you have done to the motives of Jaydens Law and all their supporters???

so would you be able to bury a body(and register the plot for that person in records) without a birth or death certificate?? i dont see how that could work?

Yes people in this situation are feeling real terrible emotional pain over a real loss. It is just not the loss of a baby.

The truth is that unless a pregnancy gets far enough along to have real normal brain activity in the fetus, then there isn't an actual "baby" to greive (not yet...not that early in a pregnancy). The problem is that it seems a bit brutal to be honest about this to a person who is crying over losing their 'baby' when what they have actually lost is the 'potential' of a baby.

There is also a huge amount of disinformation (lies) told about this in the "right to be born" groups. I know this because I was born into a fundamentalist family and got exposed to a lot of widely accepted (and never questioned at all) lies that are very blatant. Things about abortion that were told to us regularly in church. The one that makes the most difference here is WHEN brain activity is normal for a living person (when somebody is home inside that body).

Some of the lies I heard told when I was growing up were quite brazen and none of them were ever questioned...just accepted. Some of the anti abortion groups try and claim that FULL brain function (a complete nervous system with independent thought) is there in a 5 week old embryo (which looks like a fish), but this is far from the truth. They show photos from much further along in pregnancy to drive their points home. This stage does not really occur until right before medical viability outside of a womb for a premature birth the 25 week 'viability' point).

This is important to say, because people have been lied to so very much that the lies have crept into normal publications that average people rely on for information on their developing pregnancy (yes, at this point most of the what to expect illustrated guides have 'right to life' propaganda in them)..

It is hard to have a reasonable conversation about any of this without dealing with these other issues.

My wife an I dealt with several miscarriages. A piece of paper with an official government lie on it, would not have helped us. On the other hand it would have helped a lot of very unethical people who believe they are doing "god's work".

You disgust me. Your post is horribly upsetting to women who have lost babies. Your comment about babies not having full brain function until 25 weeks gestation is completely stupid and unfounded.
So, in your opinion a baby is not a 'baby' until they reach 25 weeks gestation. You are a fool.
Please let the parents of this little girl know that their daughter (born at 21 weeks gestation) was never a baby. Then keep your idiotic opinions to yourself. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1021034/The-tiniest-survivor-H...

wow!!! fantastic.......im starting to get a great view of what feminists and pro choice activists are all about! 'i can feel how i want about my unborn "fetus", do what i want with my unborn fetus, my body my choice......but not you.......you have no rights and can not think for yourself" How dare you make dictations towards the way a mother or father feel towards their unborn child......their "fetus" or their "baby". They have not lost a potential baby if that is not how they feel!!!!! their right and their choice to feel something towards that uterine resident is theirs to decide......not yours.......especially as a man who will never know how it feels to carry a wanted baby in their bodies (how that for some discrimination for you) . A 'government lie' ?? please explain??? these women GAVE BIRTH, they didnt loose blood, they gave birth to a BABY.....this is their pain and they can choose to feel how they like about that experience and that tiny human being laying dead in their arms!!! no one is fighting for viability changes or when brain function begins, a baby is not viable at 12 weeks everyone knows this the fact is these mothers gave birth at that stage......went through full blown labour to remove their baby from their body!! I too have had 2 miscarriages(as in i bled) then i gave birth, was put in hospital and had to push my baby from my body(all three were considered a miscarriage)! Dont tell me how to feel for that deceased little boy i held in my arms and cried over, or the room i had to come home and face, my breasts that filled with milk! He was not an idea of a baby.....he was MY baby! How utterly foul of you to tell me how i should feel about him!! Ps......... you pay out religion in this hypocritical little speech.....guess what.....the reason people hate religion is because it is hypocritical and tries to rule your life......you have just done the same thing to any family who CHOOSES to feel something for their 'fetus', and not because all are brainwashed by religion.Censorship of pregnant women.....the new low!!! how bout keep your hands of my uterus!!!!

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