23 August 2017
[In response to SMH Article “Sydney woman prosecuted for taking abortion drug”]
Many questions arise out of the recent case of a Sydney woman who self-administered abortion pills in the 28th week of her pregnancy.
Upon review of the case notes Abortion Rethink has accessed to date, we believe the case showcases why the decriminalisation of abortion up until birth would be so devastating on NSW women.
1. Real choice vs forced coercion:
When a woman actively avoids terminating her pregnancy at the demand of her partner until she believes it’s “too late” to terminate, according observational research at the coalface of crisis pregnancy care, often the intention to end the pregnancy isn’t really hers.
Jennifer Gurry, Director of Diamond Women’s Support told us that: “We see many women facing enormous pressure to abort their otherwise wanted, if unexpected, babies...many wait it out with the hope that the delay will make the decision.”
According to case law records, the woman, actually “commenced attending pre-natal scans and check-ups and continued to so throughout the pregnancy. At about 19 weeks into the pregnancy the accused was informed by her boyfriend Lual that he did not want her to have the child...The accused did not act upon this and continued to attend medical check-ups.”
There is no place for coercion or intimidation in any decision around abortion and pregnancy, and it can rightly be considered a form of domestic violence.
It’s an experience that has been shared with Abortion Rethink by many different women, including Jaya and Adriana and requires review. In other cases, like that of Deborah and Krystine, women who, when learning current law, find a voice to push back against the coercion of partners. This voice would be silenced if decriminalisation were to occur.
2. Better care protocols required
Clearly this woman was at odds with her predicament when actively waiting to book an appointment with an abortion provider post 20 weeks gestation. Yet, there is no evidence of her being referred on for counselling or other health and support services. Why not?
The Abortion Rethink team agrees with the statement by Reproductive Choice Australia that “Anyone seeking termination of pregnancy that far into the second trimester will be experiencing significant and complex life circumstances which need to be addressed by a multi-disciplinary health and social services team, she should never have been left to fend for herself...
If she was not, this demonstrates that the NSW health service system has gaps and vulnerable women are suffering as a result.”
Our research suggests a more holistic response is required for women in such crises situations and investment into independent counselling centres and their promotion might be key. (?)
3. Physical risks:
This is a case about self-administered misoprostol pills purchased off a random person on the internet.
It’s nothing to do with being ‘between a woman and her doctor.’
The most recent bill in NSW seeking to decriminalise abortion up until birth in fact allowed for self administered procedures. This is a grave concern for a woman's well-being and section 82 of the Crimes Act seeks to protect a woman’s health by directing her toward a health provider instead.
In conclusion, the baby was born by cesaerian section - but the case says nothing about the health of the baby and that so far as we are aware no sentencing hearing has yet occurred in the case.
29 May 2017
Pro Abortion Activists’ Attempt to Influence MP’s with Coat Hanger Stunt Backfires
On Sunday, reps from the Women’s Abortion Rights Campaign Brisbane hung up a string of coat hanger signs to the fence outside Queensland Parliament House.
The signs criticised MP’s who had voted against Rob Pyne’s two bills that would have changed abortion law in Queensland.
They also called for action to decriminalise abortion in Queensland.
But instead the display became an opportunity to broaden the conversation around abortion, debunking some of the myths around abortion’s place in the Criminal Code.
Many of these women’s experiences have been excluded from the abortion debate.
Some of the signs from the Women’s Abortion Rights Campaign called for the urgency for the Queensland Law Reform commission referral to be made immediately, and for Parliament to decriminalise abortion this term.
Abortion Rethink responded by thanking the elected representatives for caring about women enough to keep the law as it stands in Queensland and New South Wales, as 84% of women say they would have continued their pregnancies had they experienced better support.
Abortion Rethink shared details of counselling services to support anyone who may have been affected by this issue.
The signs from Women’s Abortion Rights Campaign Brisbane stated that women cannot readily access abortion, and that women are treated as criminals if they undergo the procedure.
However, in Queensland abortions are generally regarded as lawful if performed to prevent serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health.
Keeping abortion in the criminal code helps to protect women from abortionists who operate for profit, and forms safeguards for women who experience unwanted pressure to abort.
While the coat hanger signs called for signatures on a petition to promptly decriminalise abortion, Abortion Rethink responded by shedding light of the 56,559 signatures (NSW) and the 55,000 signatures (QLD) collected opposing change to abortion law.
Abortion Rethink hopes this can be the beginning of a more balanced discussion based on fact, reason and the lived experiences of women.
13 May 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The ‘Abortion Rethink’ Collective asks for Urgent Corrections to Media Coverage
Last Thursday, May 11th, when NSW Parliament voted down the extreme Abortion Bill proposed by Greens MP, Mehreen Faruqui, it was the culmination of a significant community campaign conducted under the Abortion Rethink brand.
However, not one media outlet referenced this significant initiative and some of its key outputs, such as:
- A Galaxy Poll of 1003 NSW Voters on the issue
- An all-female, expert Panel held in Parliament’s Jubilee Room
- An online presence which shared evidence-based content and generated real stories from women, medicos and other specialists.
- The creation of a Parliamentary Petition which received 56,559 handwritten signatures in two weeks
- Peaceful picket lines and protests also took place on occasion, including the morning of voting where some of our team – medicos, lawyers, and of course, women;pictured here – engaged with MPs and media prior to filling majority of the public gallery.
As a secular, non-partisan collective, Abortion Rethink are greatly disturbed to find many media reports on the vote suggesting the community were behind the Bill when there is so much evidence to contradict such statements.
We also demand a correction and apology from the Daily Telegraph report which incorrectly identified photographs of our group of protestors as “Christian Democrats supporters.”
There were two protest groups against the Bill on the day and ours was completely separate to theirs.
But again, this goes to the notion that many groups in the community did not support the bill which would have crushed the human rights of medical professionals but ultimately would have removed protections from women.
The Telegraph also reported that abortion “remains a criminal offence in NSW,” describing the need for 'loopholes' for it to be performed. On the contrary, abortion is legal in NSW on reasonable grounds that it is necessary to avoid a serious danger to her life or her physical or mental health - and in assessing whether a danger to her mental health exists, the doctor may take into account economic or social factors.
This is just one of many discrepancies in reporting on this issue and bill that in fact further harms women in the process. Abortion Rethink believes women have a right to this debate being based on fact and reason rather than hyperbole and one-sided extremism.
As such, Abortion Rethink does not subscribe to any labels and endorses further discussion at a Parliamentary and grassroots community level towards better care and true choice for women.