March pt. 2 and April: Pro-Choice

FEMEN

FEMEN

Lately, I’ve been trying to refrain from blogging when I’m upset or angry for obvious reasons.

It’s not good to rant or share where you could be misquoted or taken out of context, or say something in the heat of the moment.Tonight is a different story. I am going to write and write and write until I feel like I’ve said all I need to say.

Last year, the ‘war on women’ in America scared the bejeezuz out of me.

It scared me how much power the Republican Party wielded, their incredibly archaic views on women’s reproductive systems, homosexuality, and science just to name a few. I followed the presidential candidacy race and I was genuinely relieved when Obama was voted in for a second term. America may seem like a world away, but it’s not.

Now, I feel like we have our own ‘war’ on our hands.

We are incredibly lucky in Australia. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again- I love living here. What I don’t like is the idea that there is bad stuff, bad people and bad ideologies being floated as “Life, Liberty and Legacy”.

Click on the photo to buy

Click on the photo to buy

The Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations Bill) was a momentous, courageous step forward for the Health Minister here to propose. I support it fully, to the extent of exclusion zones.

I support the idea that nobody is pro-abortion, but women deserve the fundamental right to decide when they are ready to have children.

Together, my friend Ruby and I put together a submission and petition to send to the Department of Health and Human Services. We had around thirty signatures.  Here is our submission:

My Body My Choice: Petition for the Decriminalisation of Termination of Pregnancy in Tasmania

My name is Ruby Grant and I fully endorse the proposal of the Reproductive Health (access to termination) Act 2013. I am a third year Bachelor of Arts student at UTAS with a Major in gender studies, and I have been on the Dean’s Roll of Excellence each year of my degree. Outside my studies I am an active feminist with a drive and a passion for gender equity issues. I am a feature writer for local young women’s feminist magazine BettyMag and have a blog at http://www.riseofthefembots.wordpress.com. I also facilitate a popular feminist book group.

I believe decriminalising abortion in Tasmania, the state in which I was born, grew up in, and currently reside, would have a positive impact on my life, and the lives of all the women close to me. Allowing all women equal and easy access to safe and legal abortions would give women control of their reproductive bodies. As a middle-­‐class tertiary educated young adult, I would have the emotional capacity and material means to have a child should I fall pregnant. However, at this point in my life-­‐course it would not be in a child’s best interests for that to happen. I believe there are many other young women in my position. This is not a selfish decision. This is not a frivolous decision. This is a well-­‐considered decision. Being able to have choice about how and when we bring another human being into the world, without being criminalised or stigmatised for our choice, is a fundamental human right for women, and Tasmanian law should not deny this right.

My name is Laura Kay and I fully support the proposal of the Reproductive Health (access to termination) Act 2013. I am the maker of BettyMag, Hobart’s premier feminist magazine for young women. Through the making of this publication I have had the absolute pleasure of working with women in the wider community to encourage, promote and share their goals and dreams. I consider myself an active young feminist in the community. I am a co-­‐presenter on Edge Radio 99.3fm community radio show Fem Tasm and I was on the Slutwalk 2012 organising collective. I completed my degree in psychology and sociology in 2012 and I’ve worked as a child and youth worker at Hobart Women’s Shelter for the last two years where I support women and their children escaping domestic violence and homelessness.

As a young Tasmanian woman, I believe the present legislation does not capture current societal values and believe it is time for change. I commend the Tasmanian Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne and her team on drafting this bill.
I believe placing abortion under the Criminal Code Act demeans women and their right to bodily autonomy. While I appreciate that this is an incredibly emotive topic, I believe that in 2013, it is a basic human right to have decisions around my body made between myself and my doctor, without state or church interference and without mandated counselling. Furthermore, I think the legislation should incorporate an interference zone. There is nothing ‘peaceful’ about shaming complete strangers about private decisions made about their bodies. As we have seen in America, abortion clinics have been bombed and doctors even murdered by zealous Christian fundamentalists. I think an interference-­‐free zone is absolutely vital for the wellbeing of Tasmania’s women and community attitudes towards women in general.
Finally, I fully agree with my good friend Ruby’s sentiments that it is not in the interests of a child to be brought into the world where it is unwanted. As a worker at the Hobart Women’s Shelter, I have seen the impact of unwanted children on mothers and how this impacts their economic, educational and social lives. To put simply, by allowing safe, legal abortions to Tasmanian women the whole of community would benefit.
Together, we feel that the extreme vocal minority should not win on this case.
We have put together a petition of people who support the proposal of the Reproductive Health (access to termination) Act 2013 and the following recommendations:
•    Places the law in a discreet Bill where it is clear and easy to find and understand;
•    Removes the need for two doctors to endorse referral before 24weeks;
•    Makes allowances for a doctor’s conscientious objection while ensuring appropriate referral to another doctor without those objections.
•    Provides for an access zone to prevent harassment of women and workers at clinics; and
•    Allows a conscientious objection for counsellors.
Thank you for your time.
Ruby Grant and Laura Kay

Working on the submission and petition and sending it to the Department of Health and Human Services was one of the most liberating things I have done lately. You can find out more about the act and the proposals here and at End the Confusion.

Tonight, now, coming back from a brilliant night with like-minded, independent and successful women, WoMo, or Women’s Movement organised by a very inspiring woman at Salamanca, I come to my computer for some congratulations to the people who made tonight possible when I see poison coming up on my facebook; The ‘Salamanca Declaration’.

Salamanca, my favourite strip in Tasmania, a place where I called home for four years when I lived one street away, and where WoMo gathered and shared ideas about how we can make the world a better place. The beautiful place that is Salamanca, Hobart, has been used to name a vile piece of bigoted “agreement” between the heads of churches around the state, to exercise their influence over the Tasmanian public and government.

The Salamanca Declaration is a gathering of heads of churches to yield influence on governmental reforms (from what I gather from their first press release and their website http://www.believeintasmania.com) specifically targeting access to safe terminations, euthanasia and gay relationships, successfully already talking about biological parents being the only way to have a safe family.

So what does this mean? It means the churches have been busy. It means they are feeling the affects of a secular community and they feel threatened. But I am not influencing how they live their personal lives, they feel as though they deserve to have a say or a RIGHT over my body.

“The Church has been stirred to become cohesive, united. We feel that our
key values are under attack and we need to make clear what we know to be
best for the common good of Tasmanians.
“We are upholding classical Christian values that affirm the sanctity of life, that
enable people of faith to quietly continue following their religious convictions
and that identify family as a privilege and a responsibility that establishes a

legacy for those involved and the greater community,” Clare Van Ryn.

How is this okay?

How is this okay?

How is   this      okay   in   2013??????

Tasmanian women deserve respect, they deserve bodily autonomy and they just deserve better!

Rant over. And apologies for the awful writing. I am in an awfully bad mood.

MargaretSangerBody.001

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1 comment
  1. On the contrary, this is not awful writing; it is expressing how you feel about two important issues… a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body and the separation of church and state.
    I am an older woman (56), so reproductive health is no longer a major issue for me personally, but as a retired nurse as well as an arts graduate who majored in history and political science I am furious that a male dominated political system and christian church wants to wind the clock back so many years.
    I am not particularly pro abortion but by gee I am very pro choice and 100% pro the safety of women and children. I have had this conversation with many people of late … including some fundamentalist Christians…. it is my professional and personal opinion that regardless of what I think about abortions in any trimester THEY WILL OCCUR… therefore it is incumbent on us all to regulate this sector of health care so a that women can have access to a safe affordable abortion and that health professionals be appropriately trained, protected by law and remunerated to perform such procedures. To do anything else just reinforces the traditional position where the wealthy have access to safe abortion at any point in their pregnancy and other women are forced to seek illegal abortion.
    Like you I am shocked by the Salamanca Declaration, I have very definite views on euthanasia which are formed as result of my career and family experience but this is not the forum in which to expand them. As for gay marriage… what a stupid issue…. if the state recognizes gay relationships have all the same rights at law except the right to marry then it is discrimination pure and simple. The church… in it’s various guises… has always exercised the right to extend or deny access to the various sacraments at will and I’m sure the practices of the last 2000 years aren’t going to change any time soon.
    I am very concerned about the hypocrisy of all tiers of government across both major parties… it would appear that to be defined as “family” worthy of government support there must be two heterosexual parents living together, preferably sending their children to private schools and paying a huge mortgage. Both parents have to work to support this life style, yet women (generally) support aging parents/ grandparents, cook like those on masterchef, do parent help at school and take kids to little aths while succeeding professionally. Single parents are financially punished by the federal government regardless of why they are single (widows, failed relationships or just single mums).
    I haven’t looked at the stats for a while but 10 years ago the majority of those who sought termination at any point in a pregnancy were over 30, in stable relationships and often professional women who had other children.
    This says much to me about the society in which we live and the actual as well as implied public policy …. the church and conservative politicians say they are pro families but what they are actually pro is a comfortable middle class life for professional men and that includes two good salaries into a household, sex on tap, a social life and no screaming babies upsetting their comfortable lives. They are not pro equity of access to health care, education, childcare or employment for all women and they are certainly not pro support for those who live on the margins… including those forced to care for children they do not want or unable to care for appropriately for a variety of reasons.

    And that is my little rant for the day. too.

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