Abortion access vital for women escaping domestic violence
Right now, abortion is still considered a crime in Queensland. Next Wednesday there's a chance to change that.
Having the legal right to access an abortion is important for many reasons - including its important to women trying to escape abusive partners.
The Women's Legal Service in Queensland have explained that:
Having access to all reproductive healthcare options can be vital for a woman who is trying to escape an abusive partner.
All too often we see perpetrators of abuse limiting their partner's access to contraceptive and reproductive healthcare - and also using unwanted pregnancy as a way to try and trap their partner.
For a number of women who have turned to Women's Legal Service for help to escape their abusive partner, Queensland's current, outdated laws are making it even more difficult to access the services they desperately need, including pregnancy termination options.
For a woman who is facing emotional, financial and physical abuse - unwanted pregnancy can be devastating, and access to all reproductive healthcare options is critical for those who want to choose abortion to help them get safe from escalating violence and control.
Women who want to access abortion will often move mountains to make that happen because they know it is the best decision for them and their family at that time. Our current system makes this even harder for women, especially women experiencing domestic violence who are amongst our most vulnerable.
The last thing we want is to continue the current climate where women are forced to continue a pregnancy against their will because the access barriers to abortion are too great to overcome. For women experiencing domestic violence, they are then tied to an abusive partner forever as co-parents.
This week White Ribbon have also released a statement declaring their support for full reproductive rights, stating:
"All women should have complete control over their reproductive and sexual health."
They have stated they take this position because:
We are opposed to all forms of control, violence and abuse. Restricting or denying a woman the autonomy to make decisions about her body is an attempt to maintain power and control over a woman. This is also known as reproductive coercion.
- Sexual and reproductive rights are basic human rights. Denying a woman access to contraception and abortion is a denial of basic rights to health care. It impacts on a woman achieving economic and sexual self-determination and having full access to education and employment. It is a woman’s right to choose if and when she gets pregnant. It is a woman’s right to seek an abortion.
- Women want access to abortion and control over their reproductive rights.
- Criminalisation of abortion and restricted access to abortion and birth control (through high cost and limited availability) endanger women’s physical and emotional health and wellbeing.
Other experts agree. Professors Caroline de Costa and Heather Douglas wrote this week:
"For women experiencing domestic violence, good access to abortion might be the difference between staying in a violent relationship and getting out."
This week Queensland MPs will be asked to vote on whether or not abortion should be decriminalised. This change won't be made without huge public support. Can you help show the undecided MPs you want them to vote for decriminalisation?