Thanks Miranda Devine, but we will win abortion reform

August 1, 2019
A pro-choice rally outside NSW Parliament on July 31. Photo: Peter Boyle

Thank you Miranda Devine for your wild overreaction to the bill before NSW parliament to treat abortion as a health issue (“Vote Libs, get Greens”, Daily Telegraph, July 31), as it will no doubt lose you and support.

It must also surely rank as top fake news of the week. Far from being “one of the most dangerous radical abortion bills on the planet”, the bill is modelled on existing Queensland and Victorian law.

Moreover, your view that Coalition MPs’ support for basic health care for women is somehow a Labor-Green plot is equally bizarre. This bill is not about late-term abortions, as you suggest. It’s about giving women the health care they need when they need it — and not make them out to be criminals for doing so.

Abortion in NSW has been available to those with the means, as you yourself note. But that is clearly discriminatory.

Paramedic Tess Oxley has pointed out that the Reproductive Health Reform Bill 2019 aims to remove this discrimination and protect vulnerable women “who can’t see any way out of dire, desperate situations” and instead “try to end their pregnancy themselves in the most dangerous, heartbreaking ways”.

Surely all women in NSW, including those who are young, alone, poor or live remotely, deserve the right to access professional health care?

NSW remains the only state in which abortion is governed under an archaic and sexist 119-year-old criminal code, the Crimes Act 1900. Today, finally, there appears to be enough MPs of conscience to introduce a standalone healthcare act to regulate the procedure.

This should have been done decades ago, perhaps after Justice Levine’s 1971 ruling that the law be amended to consider abortion lawful if the pregnancy threatens a woman’s life, physical or mental health.

No ruling is made in a vacuum: that one came during the “second wave” of the women’s movement. While politics has shifted since then, many still believe woman have a right not to be discriminated against.

Of course, public opinion and laws are two different things, but MPs can see the writing on the wall.

Supporters of your reactionary ideology in the NSW parliament should remember that no popular opinion poll in Australia in the past 50 years has found more than 5-10% of voters opposed to abortion in all or almost all circumstances.

That is a powerful argument for reform, regardless of political affiliation.

It is well past time for the law to be changed.

Of course, laws can be revoked down the track. That is why supporters of a woman’s right to choose have to remain vigilant. We pushed hard for decriminalisation, and it has overwhelming public support. We will be ready to defend this reform against attacks by the religious right and conservatives such as yourself.

We can see what a similar loud, but small, cohort is doing in the United States and we will not let it happen here.

[Email your MP today to let them know how you would like them to vote and join the rally outside NSW Parliament before debate starts on the bill on August 6.]

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