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.)