This post was originally published at The Daily Blog on 19 July 2013.
On Back Benches this week, Holly Walker cemented her position as one of the most badass MPs in the House by saying the following:
I’ve been thinking…as I approach the end of my pregnancy that I’m really lucky to have a lot of choices about what’s best for me and my body and my baby. Unfortunately a lot of women at the beginning of an unwanted pregnancy don’t have the same degree of choice and control. Now recently Wendy Davis stood up for 13 hours in the Texas senate to stand up for a woman’s right to choose. And we’ve shown in New Zealand that we can work together cross-party on these sensitive issues to update the law and I think it’s time to start the cross-party conversation on modernising our abortion law in New Zealand.
H/T ALRANZ for the transcript.
It’s a huge step forward for the prochoice movement, having a vocal, unashamed, and – because really, it’s a hugely powerful symbol – pregnant advocate for abortion law reform.
The downer is that more and more we’re coming to see how absolutely fucked up our archaic, judgey abortion laws are, and how they endanger the health of pregnant people.
Because it’s not enough to know that abortion is a crime in New Zealand, with strict procedures around when it’s permissible.
It’s not enough that pregnant people aren’t trusted to make their own decisions, and have to justify and plead with multiple consultants in order to get the procedure signed off. (Imagine if they implemented the same process for vasectomies.)
It’s not enough that rape isn’t considered sufficient grounds for an abortion – and it’s not enough that the reason for that is our 1970s, almost-entirely-white-male, Parliament thought women would just lie about rape to get abortions.
No, this week another shoe dropped, thanks to the tireless work of ALRANZ, who revealed that most pregnant people seeking abortions in New Zealand, after jumping through all the hoops, will still be forced to undergo an ultrasound. An ultrasound which may not even be medically necessary (and would be even less necessary if we didn’t have all those hoops, which mean abortions are being performed later in pregnancy.)
So if you’re a pregnant teen in Westport, not only do you have to find two certifying consultants you trust to talk to about abortion, then convince them that you tick all the boxes set down by men who were old and judgemental before you were even born, not only do you have to travel to Christchurch for your procedure (time off work or out of school and god help you if the clinic’s shut that day) but you also have to undergo a scan. And you have to be told that you may look at the scan. Because what you really really need at that point is to have an entire society’s baggage about pregnancy and ultrasound and the ~miracle of life~ dropped on your head.
There’s only one solution: clear, straight up reform of our abortion laws. Get abortion out of the Crimes Act. Scrap the humiliating justifications. Let pregnant people make their own decisions.
Don’t like it? Don’t get an abortion when you’re pregnant.
(Unless of course it’s different when you need it.)
This week, we’ve seen some really clear examples of how parenting and politics don’t mix.
Nanaia Mahuta, MP for Hauraki-Waikato, had to take her five-month-old baby into the debating chamber late on a Friday night because 8 of her Labour colleagues apparently had far more important things to attend and no one told Chris Hipkins that this government likes to ram things through under urgency right after the Budget.
And Holly Walker, list MP for the Greens, has received kindly, compassionate words of advice from a constituent who wanted to remind her silly ladybrain that it’s a terrible, terrible crime for her to be pregnant while elected.
Mahuta and Walker just don’t understand. Politics and parenting doesn’t mix. They’d be well advised to look to role models like the Prime Minister, who understood that because he chose to have a son who attends a prestigious private boys’ school and chose to become leader of our country, he needed to set priorities and remember he can’t just demand that politics accommodates his choice to have children.
Wait, no, the other way round.
Now, the thing is that Key did get some blowback for that choice – but because it was seen as a matter of his priorities, and the fucked-up-ness thereof, not because John Key’s choice to be a father is inherently in conflict with his choice to run for office.
All Mahuta has asked is that we reconsider Parliamentary rules laid down in the dawn of time when the notion of a woman MP would have been mindblowing – much less a breastfeeding parent MP. All Walker has asked is that we, um, accept the existence of her pregnancy, and presumably make the same allowances that all working pregnant people should receive, because (a) pregnant people deserve basic human rights and dignity and (b) pregnant people are just kinda ensuring the propagation of our species and the creation of future taxpayers who are going to support all your judgemental asses in retirement thanks to this government’s short-sighted bullshit suspending payments to the Cullen Fund.
Yet apparently this is completely inconceivable, despite the point (raised on Walker’s Facebook thread) that it’s meant to be the House of fucking Representatives. And pregnant people and breastfeeding people and parenting people deserve some fucking representation too, and if they cannot be accommodated by the institution which governs all our lives, where the fuck will they be accommodated?
The Greens have released a housing policy around progressive ownership – government builds houses, low-income families rent houses for nominal cost-recovering rent, and extra rent paid goes towards purchasing equity in the house.
As a bonus, rich people’s kids don’t even have to self-select out of it!
Holly Walker did a great job explaining the policy – and how no, Minister Heatley, it isn’t just creating bad debt the way your government did giving tax cuts to the rich – on Firstline. It was clear, compelling, and made sense to someone like me who really, really avoids the deeper, scarier economic debates over at The Standard.
“it comes down to the economic impact of that and whether we could afford it”.
“There’s other areas we would want to take a look at, particularly the economic impact of it. We want to be responsible economic managers and that’s a big proviso on whatever we roll out as policy.”
Good economic managers, that’s his comment. Economic impact is what’s important – not getting underprivileged families into safe dry homes, stable tenancies, and actually able to work towards owning a house as their circumstances allow. Not reducing demand on the rental market so landlords can’t just charge $300 a week for any old drafty damp shack.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I think about people’s concerns (yes yes, voiced often at The Standard) that David Shearer’s Labour Party might just be a bit of a National-lite no-principles don’t-scare-the-horses-by-actually-saying-anything-too-lefty outfit? I definitely hear the words “responsible economic managers” ringing in my ears.
Gold star to Shearer’s advisors though for making him sound like he’s been stuffed with waffles. ”Oh yeah, there are other things we’d look at. Oh, I don’t have examples to cite or anything, I haven’t figured out how to make definitive statements, but we’d definitely look at things. Lots of things. Because that makes us sound open-minded. And responsible. Especially about the economy.”
I know none of y’all in the big grey building next to the silly round building read blogs, but you might like to consider just how many commenters over at TS are now declaring themselves for the Greens. Those white-anting bastards.
Via Holly Walker, who gets to make kickass statements on the topic since she wasn’t a key advocate of a discriminatory, beneficiary-hating policy in the first place:
Children have the same needs, whether their parents are in work or not. But if a parent loses their job overnight (as so many have in Christchurch), they also suddently lose access to part of their WFF support. The In-Work Tax Credit (IWTC) provides about $60 per week to help with the essentials for those on the lowest incomes, but only if you’re in paid work. If you can’t find work, or lose your job, you miss out, and so do your children.
Now CPAG needs your help:
You can support their efforts to raise funds for their appeal here. They’re also selling three original Tom Scott cartoons, which first appeared in Bryan Bruce’s Inside Child Poverty documentary on TradeMe to help raise funds. But don’t buy them, ok? They’re on my watchlist.
Those cartoons are pretty ace. Holly might have to keep a close eye on that bidding price …