Speak-out against anti-abortionists

Issue 

Speak-out against anti-abortionists

By Jenny Long

SYDNEY — Around 30 activists attended a March 13 speak-out against anti-abortionists' harassment of patients at an abortion clinic in Sydney's inner west. As pro-choice activists described the struggle for abortion rights, others collected signatures on letters of support to women attending the clinic.

The speakers included the Women's Abortion Action Campaign's Leah Mason and Emma Keene, who spoke about how access to abortion in Western Australia has been narrowed following Labor MLC Cheryl Davenport's "reform" bill last year. Mason proposed that a monthly counter-picket against the Right to Life be held in Sydney, aimed at "making the anti-abortionists look silly" and to emphasise to the women attending the clinic that they are the best person to control their reproduction.

Clinic operator Dr Geoff Brodie also spoke, calling the anti-choice demonstrators a "pain in the butt" who hadn't affected the number of women using the clinic. He told Green Left Weekly that any attempt to improve women's abortion access should avoid politicians' involvement, which was a recipe for "death by amendment", as happened in WA.

Resistance activist Becky Fairall-Lee spoke about the need for young women, who are particularly penalised by restrictions on abortion access, to control their reproductive lives.

The last speaker, Dr Tuntuni Bhattacharyya, the Democratic Socialists' NSW election candidate for Marrickville, spoke about the failure of the Labor Party, including "left" health minister Andrew Refshauge, to remove abortion from the NSW criminal code.

Bhattacharyya told Green Left that the anti-choice pickets were more than an annoyance and part of a well-organised, well-funded offensive by religious conservatives.