I’m sorry to be so one-track minded at present, but it’s rare that something so interesting is happening in our local politics.
Oh and for those who don’t know, not only did the bill pass, but I’ve just had an email saying it passed without amendments, which is definitely a good thing. I’ll have another go-round with Hansard shortly and find out if I need to send any more appreciative emails. One should always encourage politicians who have done good things!
Given how I’ve been going on and on and on about this, it seems important to talk about why I feel so strongly about decriminalising abortion. Continue reading
One really delightful result of sending my letter to senators is that Greens Senator, Colleen Hartland, sends us daily updates on the debate in the Senate, with links to speeches by other MPs that she thinks we will find of interest.
And, I’m delighted to say, she doesn’t care which party they come from.
So. Here are two speeches from Labor Senators in favour of this Bill. I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but I’ll be going through Hansard in detail later.
Shaune Leane, I think. This one is confusing me, because his name does not come up at the start.
And, for those who are interested, here is the email, with a few more details about what is going on.
I just received an email from the Greens Upper House MP for my electorate. The email was sent to all the people who had sent letters of support for the decriminalisation of abortion bill. In it, she included a link to her speech
Either she read my letter and actually used some of what I said (a couple of sentences are almost word for word) or we agree so entirely that… well that I don’t know what. I don’t think I’ve ever read a political speech on any subject where I can agree with absolutely every nuance of what she says. My faith in the Greens is much revived…
Whichever it is, I am so very happy. All that remains now is for the bill to get passed in the Upper House… The temptation to go and sit in the visitors’ gallery this week is strong. I think I’m about to become a Hansard addict again…
I’m sure there was something else I wanted to post about, but I’m just so excited by the notion that perhaps my letter actually got used by someone that I can’t think straight about anything else. I am part of the political process!
So, here in Victoria we are currently trying to decriminalise abortion. And about time too – we’ve had a silly criminal law on the books that nobody has been prosecuted under for over 20 years, so it’s certainly time we got sensible about it.
Anyway, it’s before the Upper House at the moment, having barely passed the lower house, so now is a good opportunity to email your favourite member of parliament about it.
My personal irritant is people who keep trying to amend it to make things harder or more embarrassing or require ‘anonymous review panels’ for abortions, or, in particular, bring forward the gestational time at which abortion is legal. Having trained as a genetic counsellor, this particularly gets my goat, as the people most affected by this law would be women who either have serious medical issues themselves or who have just had a very nasty prenatal diagnosis.
Here’s the letter I’m sending to basically everyone in parliament this week.
Just to give you a feel for the debate, I’ve collected quotes from those Senators who spoke in favour of the bill. I think it’s interesting to hear what was said and how this bill was defended and passed (and it means you can be a bit more personal in your letters of thanks and appreciation!).
Here’s the first part of my potted summary of the Senate debate on the TGA reform. This post is very long, but not as long as the three Senate Hansards (transcripts of parliamentary debates) that I waded through in order to collect this information. I’ll work on one for the House of Representatives during the next week, if I have the energy… I make no promises though – I’ve spent nearly 8 hours on this so far.
So approval of RU-486 is now in the hands of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, not the Health Minister. Which I think is a marvellous thing.
Perhaps even more wonderful to me is the way that the majority of women front and backbenchers, including women from all five marjor political parties, united regardless of party lines to present and pass this bill. And I hear they intend to continue to work together on other issues relevant to women, although I am yet to track down a source for this pleasing story.
Anyway. Having bombarded my politicians on occasion with many, many emails and letters, I would now like to write and thank the women and men who voted to make RU-486 a medical, not a political, issue.
If necessary, I will read all of Hansard for the last week and make a list – but if anyone already has a list, please let me know.
In the meantime, Sharman Stone (Liberal), Lyn Allison (Democrat), Fiona Nash (National), Claire Moore (Labour) and Judith Troeth (Liberal) – thank you for your co-sponsorship of the bill.
And Kerry Nettle (Greens) and Julia Gillard (Labour) thank you for speaking in its favour.
I know there are lots more, but these were the people I found most easily – I’ll add to this list once I’ve had a good look through Hansard.
You may be aware that RU-486 is not currently legally available in Australia. What you may not be aware of is that this is because the Health Minister, Tony Abbott, currently has the ability to prevent the drug even being assessed by our Therapeutic Goods Administration.
I am, as you know, very pro-choice. But this isn’t actually about choice. To me, this is about whether we want our access to particular medicines controlled by scientists (including pharmacists and medical doctors), or by politicians.
Personally, I can quite see why some people are uncomfortable with the idea of RU-486. There may indeed be safety risks that are particular to Australia, where some of our country areas are really very remote. And there are, no doubt, ethical issues involved in any decision to terminate a pregnancy.
But safety and medical issues are best assessed by medical practitioners and research scientists.
And ethical issues associated with terminations of pregnancy are best decided by the people who will be most affected by them – women or couples, in association with anyone – doctor, clergyman, counsellor or friend – they wish to consult.
Not by a politician.
If you feel similarly, or want to make your feelings known to your Member of Parliament, go here to send an email to him or her.
Just posting a link to this site, which may be of interest to some people on my reading this: http://www.reproductivechoiceaustralia.org.au/take-action.htm
There is a call for the 81% of Australians who support a woman’s right to choose* to make their views known by contacting appropriate MPs. This is in response to Senator Ron Boswell, who has more or less called for those who are anti-abortion to show their support so that he can introduce a Private Member’s Bill that would restrict access to abortion.
Among other things it asks readers to send a ‘short and respectful’ email to the Prime Minister. I’ve just done so – I managed respectful, but didn’t quite hit ‘short’, particularly once I found myself listing all the very useful things he could do to really reduce the abortion rate in this country (more family-friendly work policies, better social and financial supports for parents, particularly parents of children with a disability, funding medical research into the prevention and therapy – and earlier prenatal diagnosis – of genetic disorders…).
Anyway, there it is. Read it, if you are interested, and act if your conscience dictates it.
*Has anyone else noticed that when you say ‘a woman’s right to choose’ everyone knows exactly which choice is being referred to, as though we had no other things we might choose to do or not to do with our lives?