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:
by ann harkness on Flickr.

30 Day book meme, 2: a book you wish more people were reading and talking about

Day 2 of the 30 day book meme – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about

This one is rather leading: it seems to think I’m ahead of the curve on books and am going to be introducing a book or series that none of you have ever heard of. I am no one’s book wizard (incidentally, I’ve read a few hundred pages of Infinite Jest and it’s fun).

Still this one is easy compared to Day 20, favourite kiss. Favourite kiss? Yikes.

Anyway, a year or so ago I wished I had more people to talk to about Karen E. Bender and Nina de Gramont (eds) Choice: True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, and Abortion. It’s an anthology of women’s stories about reproductive choices.

It’s simply a good (in the reading sense, not the emotional sense) set of real stories if abortion, infertility, pregnancy and birth stories interest you. Since I’ve been reading such since I was a kid, I loved it. I lack a huge number of friends (meatspace or online) who spend much time talking about reproductive choices.

The title doesn’t include childfreedom, but there’s at least one childfree writer, that said, if you’re not interested in parenthood decisions and stories in some way it’s largely not going to be an enormously interesting read.

It may not be a good book to read while pregnant or if you have infertility or pregnancy-related grief: there’s a second trimester abortion for pre-eclampsia (there’s an earlier draft of that one at warning ReadingWritingLiving) for example, a “baby scoop” birthmother’s story, and several other tragedies).

In fact, probably my single major criticism is also inevitable given the book’s scope: many choices are extremely serious, often distressing and conflicted, by the nature of soliciting stories from women willing to write thousands of words about a reproductive choice they made. Given that I tended towards being anxious anyway, it didn’t provide a great basis for pre-pregnancy reading, I should have been reading Pregnancy and Birth: loved it more than lollipops (not, as far as I can see, an actual title on the market).

Also, if you are thinking along these lines about disability politics, abortion and reproductive choice, you will probably find it an incomplete anthology: there’s a mother who chose to abort a fetus that would have been a second hemophiliac son, and a mother who had a
primary CMV infection and a healthy child, but not a lot of questioning of the a healthy child is a better child assumptions.