As you may have heard, New South Wales is currently in the process of attempting to finally decriminalise abortion. A bill will be debated in state parliament this week, supported by 15 politicians from across all party lines, and it has brought out from the woodwork the now-expected parade of ugly placard-waving, Bible-quoting busybodies who want nothing more than to remove women’s right to choose what they do with their wombs.
Introduced on Thursday by independent MP Alex Greenwich, the proposed legislation follows other states’ examples, making abortion legal up to 22 weeks’ gestation. After that, the person seeking the abortion would need the consent of two doctors to have the procedure.
The debate over abortion legislation is notable for its anachronism – it sure seems fucken weird that you can, theoretically, go to jail for terminating a pregnancy.
To draw attention to the absurdity of this fact, women on Twitter and Facebook are using the hashtag #ArrestUs to share their stories about having abortions – why they chose to do it and in what circumstances.
50 years since women took out an ad calling for their arrest because they had abortions. Abortion is still a crime in #NSWpol. Now is the time for it to change. Today, it is time again, for those of us who can stand up and speak out to do so. One last time. We say: #ArrestUs.
— Emily Mayo (@iamemilymayo) August 5, 2019
I can’t even remember the year I had an abortion but I am so thankful I was able to have it. We must be able to have abortions in NSW without being criminalised. #ArrestUs
— Lisa Bryant (@LisaJBryant) August 5, 2019
2011. Didn't have anyone to take me home so had to take the mifepristone option, which cost $450. I had $150 left for the rest of the year. Make it legal. Make it free. #ArrestUs
— Alison Whittaker (@AJ_Whittaker) August 5, 2019
2016. My body couldn’t handle another pregnancy so close to my first. My uterus would have ruptured and I’d never have had my second child. #ArrestUs
— Amplify Magazine (@WokeAFMedia) August 5, 2019
— Sheree Strange (@shereestrange) August 5, 2019
Since the first speaker back after QT is going to be speaking against the Bill, let’s just look at some amazing pro-choicers from this morning in the meantime ???? #arrestus #itstime #VoteProChoiceNSW pic.twitter.com/nWip7h2LSy
— Our Bodies Our Choices (@OurBodiesChoice) August 6, 2019
This is a knowing call-back to a campaign in the 1970s in which eighty women took out an advertisement in a national newspaper declaring themselves to be criminals for having abortions.
One of those women was Wendy McCarthy, who founded the Women’s Electoral Lobby. She told Buzzfeed:
We wanted to provoke the cops because we thought if it is illegal and they’re getting poor women for this, then why don’t they come for us? We were the first real tranche of university educated women in Australia, which was a privilege, and we felt secure about [placing the advertisement].
In a post by the official #ArrestUs Facebook page, the organisers explain:
Today, like in the 1970s, and while ever abortion is criminalised, some women face hurdles to access abortions and of course, for many it is difficult to speak out.
The women who took out the advert in the 1970s did it because they could. They had the privilege to be able to speak up and they believed they had a responsibility to do so.
And so it is time again, for those of us who can stand up and speak out to do so. One last time.
We, more than fifty women and fifty long years since that bold action of the 1970s, are making this statement:
We are diverse women. Our abortion experiences are varied. We have had abortions decades ago and very recently.
We have all had abortions under NSW laws which define abortion as a crime. We want to be the last.
We say: Arrest us.
Abortion is still a crime in NSW. Now is the time for it to change.
In the early 1970s eighty women declared themselves to be criminals in a national newspaper, taking out an advertisement…
It was, and is, a hugely ballsy move to call the administration’s bluff about the illegality of this fundamental right to bodily autonomy. Let’s hope this is the last time we need to make it.Source: Buzzfeed
Image: Twitter / @OurBodiesChoice