pro-choice

The following is a slightly abridged speech given by Jessika Faithfull to a pro-choice protest on March 18 called by the University of Sydney Women’s Collective.

The protest outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney was called to counter the annual anti-abortion “Walk for Little Feet” rally. A large contingent of NSW Police unsuccessfully tried to shut the pro-choice protest down.

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Pro-choice protest outside Queensland parliament, May 10.

Pro-choice activists in Queensland have expressed disappointment at the release of a parliamentary report on August 26 that failed to support the bill before Queensland parliament to decriminalise abortion.

Since the 1973 United States Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision in legalising most abortions, there has been a steady erosion of women’s abortion rights in the US - with the complicity of both major capitalist parties.

A new wave of restrictions spearheaded by Republicans has developed in the past three years, gaining more traction in the past year.

Since Australian women rallied for “free, safe, accessible abortion on demand” 40 years ago, much has been achieved.

Legal reform of some kind has taken place in most states and territories. There is Medicare funding for pregnancy termination, mifepristone is available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and women no longer suffer the complications from illegal “backyard” operations.

Yet there are still obstacles for women to access affordable pregnancy termination services in a timely manner.

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.

Pro-choice activist will be rallying outside the East Melbourne fertility control clinic on November 24, under the slogan “Our Clinic, Our Bodies, Our Choice”.

The rally is organised by Melbourne Feminist Action (MFA), an exciting new women’s rights collective.

MFA was initiated by Jacinda Woodhead and Stephanie Convery who work for literary journal Overland. They were motivated by what seems to be a growing and renewed public interest in women’s rights in Melbourne.

The article below first appeared on The Conversation on August 30.

Angela Taft is an associate professor in public health at La Trobe University. She is the co-ordinator for Women's Health Special Interest Group at the Public Health Association of Australia, which has lobbied for the importation of RU486 for several years.

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