I recently wrote a post about the young woman in QLD who has been charged with procuring a miscarriage and her male partner charged for supplying drugs or instruments to procure an abortion. I wrote about the hypocrisy of anti-choice activists who threatened Premier Anna Bligh’s children in protest against the clarifying of abortion legislation. The legislation had needed clarification when Doctors stopped performing medical abortions in response to the young Cairn’s couple’s case, as their legal protections were unclear.
I was watching the episode of Q&A in which Premier Anna Bligh was queried about the issue; she prefaced her answer by stating that she is pro-choice:
I’m on the record on this issue. I have very liberal views on abortion. I believe it is a private matter between a woman and her partner and her doctor.
She and the other guests went on to discuss the complexities of this particular case. The discussion inevitably brought up the fact that instead of abortion being treated under the health code, it is part of the criminal code.
Tony Jones asked the Premier “Do you think that the law should be changed”, she replied that she would vote for a change in the law but that this would mean that it would be put to a conscience vote and that she is AFRAID THAT THIS COULD RESULT IN FARTHER RESTRICTIONS FOR WOMEN.
Well, this has been one of my concerns. I don’t believe it would – sorry, that a Bill to change it would necessarily get the support of the majority of parliament and I suspect that it may well, in its manifestation through the debate, get so amended that, in fact, the circumstances may, in fact, be worse for women at the end of that process because it would restrict it further and that’s always been my caution. This is now a matter that is largely deal with by women talking to their doctors and resolving it because there is some legal certainty, but not entirely.
Bligh is a member of Emily’s List; an organisation that supports progressive labor women in order to increase progressive women’s representation in parliament. The organisation advocates along feminist principles including, amongst others, pro-choice.
I’ve been fascinated by this case, I just find it utterly unfathomable that in this day and age a woman and her partner can be busted for abortion. I know that there is some complexity. The couple have allegedly imported and taken the drugs themselves rather than have a Doctor prescribe them, but, they aren’t being busted for importing drugs they’re being busted for procuring a miscarriage and supplying drugs or instruments to procure an abortion.
I’m really, really curious about what must be going on behind the scenes. What Premier Bligh must know. Why is she so sure that Women might have less access to abortion if it goes to a conscience vote and why the fuck doesn’t she be more explicit and let us know what the hell is going on? Especially since the most recent data shows, quite clearly, that pro-choice attitudes are well in the majority.
Caroline De Costa is a professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at James Cook Uni in Cairns and has been writing some ‘you beaut’ articles over at Crikey about abortion law in Queensland calling for the decriminalization of abortion.
The solution is for the Premier to exercise some leadership and instigate reforms that will benefit women and give legal certainty to doctors. The debate is not about whether Queensland should or should not have abortion — we already have it — and that will not change.
If the Premier is unable to take on the task herself then the relevant sections of the Criminal Code should be sent to the state’s Law Reform Commission — whose job it is to reform the law- and appropriate recommendations sent back to Parliament. As soon as possible
It’s not quite enough really, is it? As the Premier, to publicly declare your personal pro-choice beliefs whilst your State is in the throes of prosecuting a couple who may be up for seven years in prison and you have refused to do anything about it. That’s a fucking terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible compromise of principles eh? I mean, some might call it gutless collusion to protect your own political arse but who knows what you’re privy to.