The outcome of a trial against a Cairns couple for procuring an abortion has turned the tables on the Department of Public Prosecutions and the Queensland government. The Cairns jury swiftly returned a “not guilty” verdict on October 14 and the question now being asked is “what real crimes are exposed by this case?” For many, the real crime is the fact that the anti-abortion laws from 1899 have not been repealed.
Pip Hinman has been pre-selected to run for the Socialist Alliance in the NSW seat of Marrickville in the March state elections. She is an activist journalist and stood in the seat in 2007. Hinman was active in the pro-choice movement in Sydney and Brisbane in the 1980s and 1990s. Below, she responds to the October 14 not guilty verdict in the trial of the Cairns couple charged under Queensland’s abortion laws. * * * The not guilty finding of the young Cairns couple should be the impetus for the NSW government to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act of 1900.
One hundred people rallied in Sydney on October 9 in solidarity with a young Cairns couple charged with abortion-related offences under Queensland’s 1899 criminal code. The court case begins on October 12, and the couple will be supported by a vigil outside. The rally was organised by the Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC) as part of a national day of action coordinated by ProChoice Action Collective Qld: WAAC NSW: and Radical Women Vic. It called for the repeal of all abortion laws from the criminal code and for free, safe and accessible abortion.
Green Left Weekly’s Angela Walker spoke to Carole Ford, a founding member of Pro Choice Cairns, about the upcoming trial of a young Cairns couple. The couple have been charged under Queensland’s 19th century abortion-procurement laws. How has the Cairns community responded to this case? With overwhelming disbelief. I'm sure when most Queenslanders first heard of the charges, they felt as if they had regressed in time.
Campaigners for women’s reproductive rights are gearing up for a day of protest on October 9. A young woman and her partner from Cairns face charges under Queensland’s 19th century criminal code for procuring an abortion. The trial date is set for October 12. A National Day of Action (NDA) will be marked by protests around the country, demanding that all charges against the couple be dropped. The NDA is the initiative of three organisations: the Pro-Choice Action Collective in Brisbane, the Women’s Abortion Action Campaign in Sydney and Radical Women in Melbourne.
The Cairns Women’s Network (CNW) has endorsed a planned national day of action for abortion rights on October 9. “We do not understand why a section of the Qld Criminal Code from 1899 is being used to bring charges against a young Cairns couple in 2010”, said Dr Carole Ford from the Cairns Women’s Network. “All people who respect a woman’s right to control her own fertility should support repeal of these archaic laws.” Ford said the CNW was planning a peaceful vigil in Cairns beginning on October 11.
Pro-choice group Children by Choice has written to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and two senior state ministers calling for a legislative review of the state's abortion laws, a move supported by the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL), said the July 7 Courier-Mail. However, Children by Choice spokesperson Cait Calcutt said all three leaders had replied that the government would not act, saying any change would be up to a private member's bill.
The Venezuelan National Assembly (NA) is considering a bill to decriminalise abortion, but only in restricted cases, the June 10 Ultimas Noticias reported. It was one of the proposals of the committee for the rights of women in the NA. It is part of a raft of proposals to be considered in changes to a new penal code, to eliminate gender bias.