Quick link: decriminalise abortion in NSW

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

In 2013 and 2014 there was a push to introduce legislation which incorporated fetal personhood into law in NSW: Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill (No. 2) 2013. See for example Julie Hamblin’s commentary at the time on how such legislation could be used to further restrict access to abortion in NSW, even when the stated purpose is to allow for abusive violence to fetuses to be punished. The bill passed the Lower House of NSW Parliament but was never put to the Upper House, and thus lapsed in November 2014 when the 55th Parliament ended. It never became law.

Leslie Cannold, speaking to a Greens forum in September 2013 (video here, not subtitled) called on NSW to not only fight a rear-guard action in defending pregnant people seeking abortions from further rights being granted to fetuses, but to follow Victoria (and later Tasmania) in decriminalising abortion entirely. And now Greens MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi, is campaigning for the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW. Here are some of the facts about abortion access in NSW her flyer gives:

The laws surrounding access to abortion in NSW are very confusing. Abortion is currently in the Crimes Act (Sections 82-84), although court decisions have established that abortion will not be unlawful if a doctor reasonably believes it is necessary to save the woman from serious danger to her life, or mental or physical health[…]

In NSW, an abortion is unlawful unless a doctor deems that a woman’s physical, psychological and/or mental health is in serious danger. The criterion of ‘mental health’ can include economic and/or social factors[…]

Any amendments to the Crimes Act, such as those proposed by supporters of foetal personhood laws risks changing that interpretation. By removing abortion from the Crimes Act, it will no longer be a criminal offence and women and their doctors will no longer have to rely on the interpretation of the law by a court in each case in order to avoid criminal liability.

Learn more about the campaign at the Decriminalise Abortion page on Faruqi’s website. You can help by signing the online petition in support of decriminalisation or collecting signatures offline.


Featured image credit:
Pro_Choice_March-Texas_State_Capitol-2013_07_01-9378.jpg
by ann harkness on Flickr.

Like advice columns? Check out Captain Awkward

I keep meaning to send the link to individual people I know, but then encountering a crucial etiquette problem, being that one cannot say “here’s an advice column you might like” without being heard as “here’s an advice column YOU NEED TO LISTEN TO BECAUSE YOU OUGHT TO FIX YOUR LIFE DO YOU HEAR ME?”

A broadcast medium is obviously the solution. Captain Awkward. Blogger gives advice, mostly about boundries.

Breastfeeding anti-discrimination changes passed at the Federal level

This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.

Via the Australian Breastfeeding Association on Twitter, this press release from the Federal Attorney-General:

A pale skinned woman reads 'Breastfeeding: A Parent's Guide' while nursing a baby

Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis today welcomed the passage through Parliament of the Sex and Age Discrimination Legislation Amendment Bill 2010.

The new law will provide greater protections by… establishing breastfeeding as a separate ground of discrimination, and allowing measures to be taken to accommodate the needs of breastfeeding mothers…

Here’s the text of a Senate review of the Bill as regards breastfeeding:

Creating a separate ground of discrimination for breastfeeding

2.9 Item 17 of Schedule 1 of the Bill would insert a separate ground of discrimination in relation to breastfeeding into the Sex Discrimination Act, to implement Recommendation 12 of the Senate Report. The Senate Report recommended that a separate ground be created because:

…the intent of the Act is to protect women from discrimination based upon them breastfeeding. This is achieved by providing in subsection 5(1A) that breastfeeding is a characteristic that appertains generally to women. This seems a somewhat circuitous path. It would be desirable for the Act to provide for specific protection against discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding.[17]

2.10 The separate ground of discrimination, provided for in proposed new section 7AA, only applies to women who are breastfeeding. ‘Breastfeeding’ would be defined as ‘the act of expressing milk’; ‘an act of breastfeeding’; and ‘breastfeeding over a period of time’. The inclusion of a reference to ‘breastfeeding over a period of time’ would ensure that a respondent cannot claim that a discriminatory act was lawful because the complainant was not actually breastfeeding at the time the act occurred.

2.11 The protections against discrimination on the ground of breastfeeding would be extended to both direct discrimination and indirect discrimination, under proposed subsections 7AA(1) and (2) respectively. Under subsection 7AA(1), direct discrimination would occur if a person treats a woman less favourably than someone else, ‘in circumstances that are the same or not materially different’, by reason of:

…the woman’s breastfeeding; or

…a characteristic that appertains generally to women who are breastfeeding; or…that is generally imputed to women who are breastfeeding.

2.12 The EM also provides an example of both direct and indirect discrimination in relation to breastfeeding:

  • direct discrimination would occur where an employer refuses to hire any woman who is breastfeeding, or a restaurateur declined to serve a breastfeeding patron; and
  • indirect discrimination would occur where an employer imposes a requirement on employees that they ‘must not take any breaks for set periods during the day under any circumstances’, which would have the effect of disadvantaging women who ‘need to express milk’.

2.13 The Bill provides that discrimination on the grounds of breastfeeding is also prohibited in the following areas of public life (subject to certain exemptions in Division 4 of the Sex Discrimination Act):

  • education;
  • goods, services and facilities;
  • accommodation;
  • land;
  • clubs; and
  • the administration of Commonwealth laws and programs.

2.14 Item 60 of Schedule 1 would prevent a man from bringing a complaint of unlawful sexual discrimination on the basis that a person grants to a woman rights or privileges related to the fact that they are breastfeeding. This amendment recognises that breastfeeding may ‘give rise to special needs, such as for private areas for breastfeeding, or hygienic areas for storage of expressed milk’, which should not be subject to complaints of discrimination.

I am assuming that the wording that regards all people lactating and feeding a baby as women is a pretty pervasive problem in this area? Otherwise this seems like very good news on a number of fronts.

The bill also has provisions about discrimination on the basis of family responsibilities, and increased protection for students who are harassed, including provisions about the harassment of a student by others from a different institution (I’m recalling now the University of Sydney strengthening their internal provisions regarding their residential colleges), and harassment of students under the age of 16.


Image credit: the image of the woman nursing and reading is Breastfeeding on a park bench by space-man on Flickr, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike-Non Commercial.

From comments: this is what a computer scientist looks like

This article originally appeared on Geek Feminism.

From comments on Women in science: contrary to popular belief, some of us are actually alive!, Lindsey has started a Flickr group for “This is what a computer scientist looks like”. The group itself has this description:

This group collects photos of computer scientists, with a particular focus on women (may change later to include other underrepresented groups in CS).

If you are a woman in computer science, feel free to contribute a photo of yourself. If you’re contributing a photo of someone else, please make sure it’s a public photo that you have permission to share, preferably one taken at a public event such as a professional conference or workshop.

In the spirit of Photos of Mathematicians, we’re looking for modern, candid photos of currently active, not-necessarily-famous computer scientists. We’re not looking for historical photos.

So far, I am the only computer scientist. Fear me or displace me at the front of the queue!

The blog is dead, long live the blog

I’ve decided that at long last, I wouldn’t mind actual discussions occurring on some of my noodling, and so I am moving to a WordPress blog. This is the last entry under puzzling.org/logs/thoughts.

The new blog is up at Lecta.

Note that the WordPress blog will not be syndicated in its entirety to any Planets. Individual tags might or might not be at some point in the future, but I’ve decided that I am more comfortable with a readership which is specifically seeking me out.

Eventually the history from puzzling.org/logs/thoughts will be imported there, or at least mostly so, and redirected.

Other places you can find me include:

  1. my diary-style blog, at puzzling.org/logs/diary without comments or puzzlement.dreamwidth.org with comments (this probably will change form somewhat too, but not in the immediate future);
  2. as puzzlement on identi.ca and Twitter; and
  3. on the group blogs Geek Feminism and Hoyden About Town.

30 Day book meme, 1

There seem to be a lot of 30 day prompts around at the moment, and I might take on a few of them. The first is the 30 Day book meme, now that I’ve finally found a list of all the prompts. I am not commiting to 30 continuous days.

Day 1 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)

I’m ready for the ending of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn Chronicles. There are actually only five books to date (six in the USA, where the fifth book was split in two), and apparently only one more to come (again, two in the USA). But it started in 1987! I started reading it in about 1994 or so. Every book since has been supposed to be the last one. And it’s ultimately only one large plot arc, and thus very little has actually been wrapped up. Most of the subplots are still unravelling too.

I don’t know why Carmody has taken so long with this one. Perhaps she works slowly, or needs to spend time away from her worlds. But I’ve always thought that the single plot arc, and the first person point-of-view from the same character, is probably a mistake for this series. It’s become a really rich world politically and several of the secondary characters do a lot behind the scenes, but the structure requires the point-of-view character, Elspeth, who is a suspicious, traumatised introvert, to be present in order for the reader to learn anything.

It is nice to see an introvert done well (per Ursula Le Guin’s introduction to Birthday of the World, it isn’t often). Also, Carmody hasn’t made the mistake of making Elspeth’s arc terribly terribly boring in comparison to what is going on in the background (I’m one of the people who feels that JK Rowling managed to write the least interesting parts of events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by virtue of sticking with Harry’s point of view) but to be honest I am starting to get more interested in some of the secondary characters and plots than I am in her and hers. But it seems the Chronicles will conclude with the conclusion of her arc, and I’m ready for that.

Bookmarklet for making Down Under Feminist Carnival submissions

Chally writes:

I don’t know if I’m just doing a bad job of coordinating the Down Under Feminists Carnival or people just do not care about supporting the community, but it’s usually two or three people per month submitting the bulk of the posts, and one of them is me. This would be so. much. easier. if we all pitched in. Why are people not submitting?!

For me, it’s mostly too much work: the sequence is ‘look at page, think of DUFC, look up DUFC URL, copy URL into DUFC form, fill out rest of form, etc.

However, in order to make this easier, I have written a bookmarklet for Firefox. Here’s what to do, if you are a Firefox user:

  • Enter your name and email into the below form. This is the Submitter name and Submitter email that you wish to send with your DUFC submissions.
  • Press ‘Generate bookmarklet’.
  • A link will appear reading ‘Submit this page to DUFC’
  • Right click on that link and select ‘Bookmark This Link’. It may be handy to put it under in your Bookmark Toolbar, but you don’t have to.

Then, whenever you are on a page you wish to submit to DUFC, go to your ‘Submit this page to DUFC’ bookmark. A new window will pop up with much of the submission already filled out for you.

Privacy note: your name and email address are not submitted to my server when you use this form. They cannot be stored, seen, or used except by your own browser on your own computer.

Your Submitter Name:
Your Submitter Email:

Press ‘Generate bookmarklet’ to generate your bookmark.

Technical details

Reading the techical details is not necessary for anyone who simply wants to use the bookmarklet.

The bookmarklet generated is like this:

javascript:(function(){f='http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_4257.html?post_url='+encodeURIComponent(window.location.href)+'&submitter_name=NAME&submitter_email=EMAIL';a=function(){if(!window.open(f,'carnival','location=yes,links=no,scrollbars=yes,toolbar=no,width=700,height=550'))location.href=f+'jump=yes'};if(/Firefox/.test(navigator.userAgent)){setTimeout(a,0)}else{a()}})()

NAME and EMAIL are simply replaced with URL encoded values of the input name and email by some Javascript embedded in this page. You could do something similar for other blogcarnival.com carnivals merely by replacing http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_4257.html with a different URL. You may use my Javascript embedded under this page under the terms of Creative Commons Zero, that is, without acknowledgement.

Self-hosted photos, line, end of

It’s quite probably that sometime in the next few days I will hand my public photo hosting entirely over to Flickr or Picasa, quite belatedly compared to most people I know. I wanted to document some self-hosting problems:

  • Self-hosted photos are isolated, because there’s no subscription standard for photos. RSS and so on aren’t ideal because each application decides how to embed the thumbnail and so on in the content, meaning that you can’t cleanly aggregate images from all different software for easy viewing. I really think this is a big deal in uptake of self-hosting: you can’t let people pull your new photos into their own app of choice for viewing. (Same problem for blog comments, by the way, although I realise people would then want a ‘make a comment’ API and the spamming gets even worse.)
  • Gallery 2, which I started using in 2007, has been end-of-lifed in favour of Gallery 3, which is effectively a new project. Gallery 3 is still under-themed (and all of the themes look like a big ad for Gallery 3) and its new upload API isn’t supported by local clients yet. Plus, importing and re-linking everywhere (sure, they support redirects… if you weren’t using clean URLs and never hotlinked the thumbnails anywhere) is enough hassle that I’m not willing to do it every three years, and a project that has had a clean re-write twice is likely to do it again.
  • None of the big free gallery software projects (Gallery 3, Zenphoto, Plogger, probably Coppermine but I haven’t looked) support importing from the others well. You’re supposed to start afresh, or use a Perl script that has the stability status of "worked for me, more or less."
  • If you do switch, there’s terrible support for HTTP redirects of either photo pages or thumbnail hotlinks.
  • The usual web-app sysadmin problems, in which you’re supposed to make everything world-writable, and you upgrade by downloading a ZIP and unpacking it and opening a special file, and just copying a few things, and and and.
  • If photo locking is available at all, it’s way complicated, it requires people subscribe to your (well, my) dinky little photo site, there are no guest passes, etc etc. This is important to me as the parent of a baby.
  • They are feature-chasing, not leaders in features, especially usability.

I stopped enjoying doing this kind of thing for fun many years back. (You know what software thing I’m looking forward to? Learning R. You know what doesn’t resemble learning R? Writing web apps.)

PS: if you email me to suggest that I try self-hosting apps I haven’t tried, I very likely will not try it for lack of time. You would need to put serious work into the sales pitch, up to and including describing a great workflow for my particular needs and offering to migrate my database for me. I could be surprised, I guess.

Chat script for Exetel 3G

While trying to work out what was up with Wii error 32022, I was seeing if using our Exetel 3G dongle (rather than DSL) would let us update. This means that I got reasonable working PPP chatscripts for Exetel 3G.

/etc/ppp/peers/exetel-3g:

 /dev/ttyUSB0 ipparam exetel1 230400 noauth defaultroute connect "/usr/sbin/chat -v -f /etc/chatscripts/exetel-3g" 

/etc/chatscripts/exetel-3g:

 ABORT 'BUSY' ABORT 'NO CARRIER' ABORT 'ERROR' "" AT OK AT&F OK ATD*99***1# CONNECT "" 

These are an unholy combination of ideas from Ubuntu Living and etbe, since I am about 5 years too young to have had to learn the Hayes command set as a requirement to get on the ‘net. (Well, a year too young perhaps, Andrew knows it.)

Setting up network address translation is left as an exercise for the reader.

Wii update error 32022

There are reports of errors in the Wii’s latest firmware update (4.2 to 4.3) around: that the Shop channel will tell the user that they need to do a System Update, and then the update will stall at about three-quarters done, and error 32022 will be reported.

32022 is supposed to be the error for not being able to reach the Nintendo servers, and the usual solution is to wait an hour or so for either their servers to come back up, or your connection to become stable. But in June/July a lot of people started reporting complete inability to upgrade due to this error. It hit us last night.

There are all kinds of arcane solutions to this around (check out AUDISIOJUNIOR’s solution for arcane) but reports are that Nintendo tells people it’s your ISP’s fault. As best Andrew and I can tell Nintendo is right, it is your ISP’s fault, at least in a way, although they aren’t being very specific. There is a problem with the update (or perhaps with the update if it failed the first time) when you are using a transparent HTTP proxy. Most likely this is something your ISP set up.

Since getting your ISP to turn a transparent proxy off for you is usually something of a pain, you will probably find it fastest (although still very annoying) to connect your Wii to the ‘net using a different provider.