On the same day that Tasmania decriminalised abortion, the New South Wales parliament took a big step backwards for women’s rights. The Legislative Assembly voted 63 to 26 for a bill aimed at giving 20-week-old foetuses the same legal rights as human beings.
Debate on a dangerous bill that seeks to redefine when life begins was again suspended in the New South Wales Parliament on November 14. The Crimes Amendment (Zoe's law) (No 2) bill, introduced in August, will be debated again in the legislative assembly on November 21. Doubts remain as to whether it will be voted on then, or deferred to next year.
Controversial private member’s bill “Zoe’s law”, which aims to give legal rights to foetuses, was again set aside in the NSW Legislative Assembly on October 31. Only a few MPs turned up to the third second-reading debate; four spoke against and three spoke for it. Those against were: Andrew McDonald (ALP Macquarie Fields); Leslie Williams (Nationals Port Macquarie); Jamie Parker (Greens Balmain) and John Williams (Nationals Murray Darling).
NSW MPs supporting a Liberal MP's private members bill to recognise crime or harm against a foetus — dubbed “Zoe’s law” — have tried to avoid any connection between it and their reactionary anti-choice backers. But on October 24, Katrina Hodginson, National MP for Burrinjuck, publicly thanked Margaret Tighe, national president of Right to Life Australia, for her encouragement. After declaring her support for the bill, Hodginson said she believed that there was a need for more laws “from the victim’s perspective”.
The federal resources minister Ian Macfarlane announced early in his term that one of his first priorities was to expand the coal seam gas (CSG) industry in NSW. This will put him on a collision course with a powerful rural and city alliance – including activists like mother-of-four Melinda Wilson from western Sydney. Wilson helped form No CSG Blacktown and CSG Free Western Sydney. She is organising a protest outside the East Coast Gas Outlook conference in Sydney on October 22.
A bill to recognise crime or harm against a foetus was debated a second time in NSW parliament on October 17. About 100 protesters rallied outside before filling the public gallery to witness the debate. Liberal MP Chris Spence's bill, the Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2013 No. 2, also known as “Zoe's law”, aims to amend the NSW Crimes Act. It would give rights and personhood to foetuses of more than 20 weeks (or weighing more than 400 grams), which has troubling implications for women’s reproductive control.
Students and staff rally at Sydney University in May. After a hard-fought industrial campaign, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at the University of Sydney has just voted to accept a new workplace agreement. NTEU branch committee member Nick Riemer told Green Left Weekly: “One of the most valuable results of the campaign has been the way it’s politicised and activated the branch.
A push to give a foetus “personhood” has been, until now, quietly making its way through the NSW parliament. About 100 people packed out the NSW Parliamentary gallery on September 19 to witness a debate on a bill to amend the NSW Crimes Act to give foetuses of 20 weeks, and more than 400 grams, “personhood” or legal rights.
Pro-choice activists fear that a new bill, soon to go to NSW parliament, will pose a threat to women’s reproductive rights. “Zoe’s law” will create a new offence that recognises crime or harm against a foetus. The Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill 2013 No. 2 was introduced by Liberal MP Chris Spence. It is named after the stillborn daughter of Brodie Donegan, who was 32-weeks pregnant when she was hit by a car on Christmas day in 2009 near Ourimbah on the central coast. Donegan suffered severe injuries and an emergency caesarean was too late to save the foetus.
Vincent Emanuele, 29, fought in the Iraq war, was forced to kill people and suffers post-traumatic stress. Yet he remains a leading activist with the US Iraq Veterans Against the War. On tour through the eastern states of Australia, Emanuele told a Sydney public meeting jointly hosted by Stop the War Coalition, Marrickville Peace Group and StandFast, that the anti-war movement urgently needs to build resistance to the “insane system that leads to wars and drives ecological destruction”.