ASC Appointment: An opportunity

Today Parliament voted to appoint a new member, Dr Tangimoana Frances Habib of Hamilton as the third member of the Abortion Supervisory Committee. Dr Habib was recommended by the Minister of Justice, Hon Simon Power, as the Ministry has oversight over the composition of the Committee. The vote was confirmed only after Tariana Turia tried to assert her own anti-choice nomination, in the form of former SPUCer, Dr Ate Moala. Luckily this was voted down 41 in favour, 70 against. For names see:

http://norightturn.blogspot.com/2011/04/abortion-supervisory-committee-vote.html

However, this tiny moment in Parliamentary history, one that probably would have been ignored (or hardly mentioned) a few years ago, has attracted many people’s attention. I personally think it is important for two reasons:

The first relates to the strong position Labour MP Charles Chauvel took when he stood up to speak. He said that abortion was a health issue and not a crime – finally some honest, sensible comments. This very act signals that we (pro-choicers) are getting some where. Decision makers will act if there are enough people behind them actively and vocally seeking change. Yesterday’s blogswarm for World Health Day accentuates and gives voice to a growing movement that is tired of seeing women treated as little more than vessels for foetuses! It is high time we trusted women to make their own reproductive decisions and hopefully Chauvel (and Chadwick) are just the beginning of more pro-active political players in this space. [As a side note, for those that applaud Chauvel for being vocal on the issue, drop him a line, write on his Facebook wall or mention to a friend just how great it is to have him on our side.]

The second point I would make is that this vote in the House gives us a greater sense of where politicians stand on the issue. Lobbying will play a role in any national campaign for changing abortion laws and increasing access/availability. While that does not mean we should ignore those that we think are already pro-choice it does give us a sense of where further work needs to be done.

Today was just another opportunity for pro-choicers to get out there and discuss abortion in New Zealand. Every conversation, every blog and every Parliamentary moment gives us a chance to enhance people’s knowledge of the law and to engage people in a dialogue about the issue. Our time is now…. So get out there and get active!

 

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Abortion – Why NZ’s laws need to change

Dear New Zealand,

I believe that abortion is a health issue and not a crime. As the law currently stands women are not trusted to make their own decisions regarding a termination of a pregnancy – that responsibility lies with the two certifying consultants who verify whether or not a woman meets the four grounds as laid out in the Crimes Act. As a woman, and as a feminist this is not acceptable to me. I would like to think that this is in fact not acceptable to most people in this country. No woman should be forced to repeatedly visit doctors, to travel long distances to access a simply medical procedure and have to ‘prove’ to anyone that she is worthy of any reproductive service. It is demeaning and only helps to perpetuate a stigma around the issue which silences those who have had abortions.

This law was never a good one. Folding to anti-choice pressure,  it was a political decision made the in the middle of the night, by dare I say it, a bunch of white, middle aged men who would never know what it is like to find himself faced with an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. This law has been allowed to fester for 33 odd years – becoming more anachronistic each subsequent year it is allowed to continue. It is only thanks to the medical profession and its holistic approach to mental health (the mostly commonly recorded ground upon which women are allowed abortions – 98% in fact) that women have been able to access good, safe medical services for so many years.

I do not believe anyone would want to see that change. Instead medical practitioners need to be given a greater role in the process, not in terms of decided upon which ground a woman can access a necessary procedure, but in being allowed to provide a wider range of techniques, especially with regard to early medication abortions.

So New Zealanders, if in reading through this your interest was piqued or you found yourself outraged, think about becoming involved in the movement to decriminalise abortion and to allow for greater access and availability of abortion on request. New Zealand cannot, nor should not, return to the years of coathangers and septic abortions, where women would go to any length, including death, to end a pregnancy. But do not deceive yourself either that there is only one way forward. Plenty of vocal anti-choice elements exist here and continue to threaten the precarious system through legal action.

These elements talk a lot about the sanctity of life and the moral responsibility that comes with being pregnant, but what if the most responsible decision is to not bring an unwanted child into the world. Isn’t it more important that we trust women to make these life changing decision for themselves?

I believe that this is a new era for reproductive rights in this country. That both women and men are tired of accepting a law that works for most. It is time that we trust women, giving them the right to autonomy over their own bodies. It is time for all of us pro-choice people to raise our voices in protest. To call on politicians to change this antiquated and harmful law. To build a movement that respects women, that sees them not as hormonal, overly emotional creatures, but human beings capable of making informed and responsible decisions for themselves. I call on everyone to stop and think about the issue of abortion today and to join with those of us fighting for a more just and equitable New Zealand.

Hope to see you all actively fighting for the cause soon,

WomenChoose

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Welcome to Women Choose blog

Welcome to Women Choose blog, a new source for chatter, information and news about the campaign for abortion law reform and greater access to abortion services.

This is a pro-choice site dedicated to expanding upon the growing movement in New Zealand advocating for decriminalisation and de-stigmatisation of abortion.

Please feel free to post thoughts or links that could add to everyone’s knowledge base.

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!

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