Fair Agenda Blog

Abortion access vital

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of women who have turned to Women's Legal Service for help to escape their abusive partner, Queensland's current, outdated laws are making it even more difficult to access the services they desperately need, including pregnancy termination options.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?

Click here to send your MP an email urging them to vote "yes" and stop criminalising women's reproductive healthcare decisions.

Or click here to sign and then share the petition with your friends.

Written by Renee Carr
25 February 2017
Decriminalise abortion

60% of voters are less likely to vote for an MP who votes to continue criminalising women’s healthcare decisions. That’s the new polling that Fair Agenda has just been able to release.

Last week I reached out and asked you to chip in to help show undecided MPs that the majority of Queenslanders want them to stop criminalising women’s healthcare decisions. And Fair Agenda members stepped up.

Thanks to the generous support of members like you, Fair Agenda was able to commission strategic polling of Queensland voters’ view of abortion. And the results could be game changing.

Yesterday, there were reports that the LNP might prevent its MPs from casting a free vote on the abortion decriminalisation package.[1] Today, because of Fair Agenda members – there is a story in the Courier Mail about the fact that 60% of Queenslanders are less likely to vote for any MP who opposed decriminalisation... And that 48% of the LNP's own supporters would also be less likely to vote for them if they vote against decriminalisation.

Fair Agenda has just sent this polling to every MP to ensure that as they consider next week’s vote they know that 82% of the Queenslanders they govern for agree it should be legal for a woman, in consultation with a medical professional, to decide to terminate a pregnancy. 

Below is a quick snapshot of the polling results. You can click here to view the full results.

On issues like these, having members willing to chip in to fund strategic tactics can be make or break.

So thank you to everyone who has donated funds, and to everyone who is donating their time to help influence their MP on this important issue!

- Renee for Fair Agenda

-References-
1. LNP still up in the air about its approach to abortion law reforms, Courier Mail, 20 February 2017.

Written by Renee Carr
21 February 2017
Decriminalise abortion

PRESS RELEASE

Women’s advocates and health professionals have spoken out against a parliamentary committee’s failure to support the urgent need for abortion decriminalisation in Queensland.

“To continue to deny women the legal right to make decisions about their own fertility and health is unfathomable, and unacceptable.” said Renee Carr, Executive Director of Fair Agenda.

“The only person in a position to properly understand the best reproductive health care decision for a woman in her multitude of relevant life circumstances is the woman herself.”

“The current laws are from the dark ages. Queensland women deserve for decriminalisation of their healthcare decisions to be a priority.” Ms Carr added.

Amanda Bradley from Children by Choice added: “These laws are fundamentally broken. They impact on women’s access to abortion services every single day.

“The situation is so absurd that we have women turning to us for financial assistance because current laws make it almost impossible to get the help they need at public hospitals.  

“Almost half of the funds we've had to raise to help women in need cover their costs are for women who have already been subjected to sexual assault or domestic violence - that our parliament wants to subject them to this further trauma through the medical system is horrible."

“The overwhelming weight of evidence provided to the committee by medical professionals and expert bodies was to recommend the passing of this legislation. Those who drive policy on all other healthcare issues are clearly in support of decriminalisation. It should be passed.”

Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia said:  “This is a healthcare issue, and should be dealt with like any other health matter. To have the Government interfering in a woman’s right to make this or any other health care decision for herself is wildly inappropriate.”

“The notion of applying the same approach to this medical procedure as we did a hundred years ago is ludicrous and inappropriate.” he added.

Kath Kerr, Social Worker at Women’s Legal Service Queensland added: "For a number of women who have turned to Women’s Legal Service for help to escape their abusive partner, the current, outdated laws are making it even more difficult to access the services they desperately need, including pregnancy termination options."

In response to recent reports that the LNP may prevent its MPs from casting a conscience vote, Ms Carr added:

“The majority of Queenslanders want abortion decriminalised. If not even a single LNP member is willing or able to vote to end the criminalisation of women’s health care decisions -- it begs the question, how well is the LNP representing Queenslanders on this issue?”

Young mother Karla Wareham-Deane added: “As a Queenslander, a lawyer, a mother, and a woman, I’m horrified that we’re even debating this in 2017.”

 

Want to take action? As Queensland MPs sit down to consider the committee report, can you make sure they receive a flood of local constituent messages urging them to support decriminalisation? Click here to remind your MP women are the experts in their own lives - and that their healthcare decisions shouldn’t be criminalised.

Written by Renee Carr
17 February 2017
postcard

If 2016 has shown us anything, it’s that we can’t take progress for granted.

That’s why it couldn’t be more important for communities like ours to keep building our power – not only to secure desperately needed advances; but also to make sure we can block the increasing attacks on progress we've previously made. And unfortunately our community’s ability to do that is constrained by our resources. 

Can you chip in to make sure our community can step up the fight for fairness and equality in 2017?

This year our 35,000 strong campaigning community has proven time and again that when we come together we can shape the national agenda, and win campaigns that are life-changing for thousands of women.

Together, we’ve secured $100 million of additional federal funding for family violence services; blocked the January 1 cuts to paid parental leave that would have hurt 80,000 new parents, won election commitments from key parties, and started to make training to prevent sexual violence a priority for university residences.

We’ve put these issues in national headlines, secured national TV coverage, had our campaigns covered in more than a dozen news outlets, and influenced the Government and key Senators.

All of this has been possible with just a tiny team to support our community. We've built incredible power. But it’s not nearly enough. At the same time we've been driving this critical impact, funding limitations have left us unable to campaign on other important issues.

If 2016 has shown us anything, it’s how vital it is that we double our efforts and stay vigilant about fighting for what we believe in. And we need your help to make that possible. Can you chip in now to help raise the $2,000 needed to step up our community's impact in early 2017?

If you donate more than $25, we’ll send you this limited edition Fair Agenda postcard as a thank you for your support!

An investment in Fair Agenda – and a fair and equal future – is exactly the kind of present we all need this holiday season.

We already know that 2017 will bring a vote on the Government’s fourth attempt to cut paid parental leave, a vote on abortion decriminalisation in Queensland, and the chance to secure training to prevent sexual violence for more university students.

But our community won’t be able to keep winning change without your support. Can you help put fair on the agenda in 2017? https://fairagenda.nationbuilder.com/donate_2017

In hope and action,

Renee for Fair Agenda

Written by Renee Carr
16 December 2016

The Labor Party have this morning re-affirmed their commitment to make changes in this area, and require judges to consider what should be done to protect vulnerable witnesses when family violence is alleged. But basic protections like this shouldn’t be contingent on which party is in government. 

That’s why we need to keep campaigning, and build the pressure on the Government to stop allowing survivors to be re-traumatised in court.

With this issue back in the headlines today, we have a critical opportunity to turn up the head on Government decision makers. 

Can you take a few minutes to email Minister for Women Michaelia Cash and Attorney-General Brandis to urge them to change the Coalition’s policy? 

Right now there are no protections in place to stop abusive ex-partners from cross-examining those they have abused in Family Court. For survivors like Eleanor, it means “I was forced to answer the questions of a man who had sexually assaulted and abused me for over a decade…. And that horrific experience was a major obstacle in my recovery from the trauma of my abuse.”

Last year Eleanor called on Fair Agenda members to stand with her, and community legal workers to call on our federal parliamentarians to make this change. More than 5,000 of us have answered that call so far. And in the lead up to the election we came together to flood the major parties with calls for change in this area. The pressure from Fair Agenda members and other community groups helped secure this pledge from the ALP.

We'll still need to see the detail of this proposal, and there are some concerns that judges will still have discretion to allow the practice - but this is a big step in the right direction.

Our campaign is working. That's why it’s critical we keep building the pressure around this issue. 

Click here for tips on what to send Minister Cash and Attorney-General Brandisor email them directly via: [email protected] and [email protected]

--

The full letter from ALP leader Bill Shorten to Fair Agenda members is available here and below:

Dear Renee and the Fair Agenda team,

I’m aware that Fair Agenda and your supporters, alongside advocates and experts, have been campaigning to stop violent perpetrators cross-examining survivors of domestic violence. Thank you for your work. I want to let you know that we are listening to you.

We have listened to the Productivity Commission, to advocates, and to experts, and Labor is taking action.

Today, on White Ribbon day, Terri Butler and I affirmed a plan that we will enact under a Labor Government. Right now, survivors of domestic violence are too often made to endure cross-examination from their violent ex-partners. That must no longer happen.

As Prime Minister, I will require judges to consider what should be done to protect vulnerable witnesses when family violence is alleged. And I'll equip them with the power and the resources to say enough is enough - no one should have to be re-traumatised by having their violent ex cross-examine them in the witness box. Labor will commit more than $43 million over four years to make sure this practice ceases.

Your advocacy is very important, and your advocacy is still needed. Malcolm Turnbull’s government is presiding over massive cuts to legal services - with a 30% funding cliff coming up in July. And his party continues to ignore your advocacy, the experts in the field, and the Productivity Commission; they are not taking action to reform cross-examination. This should not be a partisan issue. Please continue to push for these important measures, so that we don’t have to wait until the next election to resolve this problem.

On behalf of Terri Butler, Mark Dreyfus, Tanya Plibersek and all of my Labor colleagues, thank you again for getting in touch with us about this important issue. Please keep up your good work.

Yours sincerely

Bill Shorten MP
Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders 

 


*If you have been affected by sexual assault or domestic violence, you can access 24/7 counselling support at 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).*

Written by Renee Carr
23 November 2016
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