Like it says in the title, September 28 (TOMORROW!) will be a global day of action for abortion and reproductive rights.
And given our timezone, it’s up to Kiwi prochoicers to get things off to a ripping start.
ALRANZ has the details for events in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, and they want to know if anything else is happening in your neck of the woods.
You should also tweet and Facebook your support using #prochoicenz and #28sept, and get yourself on the virtual mural.
Abortion: it should be safe, legal, and unless you’re the one having it, none of your fucking business.
Remember back when I reviewed Alison McCulloch’s excellent Fighting to Choose (which incidentally you must buy, and read, and encourage others to buy, and read, because it’s really really good) and I said:
Abortion has a long and dramatic history in NZ, but it’s not a history we talk about, or remember.
Here’s another example of that, from the ALRANZ blog. Three great contributors to the NZ abortion rights movement, whose efforts and beliefs and actions, which benefited so many people*, are just erased from history once they’re gone.
It’s almost like we can’t acknowledge their work because then we’d be politicising things, and as we saw in the backlash against the response of many people to the death of Margaret Thatcher, politicising a dead person is just about the worst thing you can do, even if their entire existence in the public consciousness is political. Even when their politics – or belief that an abortion is just a medical procedure which people should be able to undergo – is something they themselves were not shy about expressing.
On the other hand, it’s like we don’t want to talk about those past struggles. Because then we’d have to address those issues as they exist, today, for pregnant people in New Zealand.
Then we’d have to actually talk about people like this young woman who’s been left in the lurch by our healthcare system and urgently needs help to get to Australia for an abortion. (If you want to donate to help her there is a Paypal option as well.) We’d have to actually ask ourselves why someone needs to fly to another country to get a safe, straightforward medical procedure.
Don’t let the mainstream media deny us our history, and the reality we live in.
*Attention antichoicers: yes, this is a trap.
ALRANZ are now on Givealittle – so you should!
New Zealand’s antichoicers are persistent, and despite being a complete minority once you actually get people to think critically about what they’re saying*, they are unwavering in their desire to control pregnant people’s bodies and impose their extremist Judeo-Christian morality on others.
ALRANZ is the organisation which brings facts to the table and supports people’s right to choose – whether that choice is contraception, or abortion, or free love and babies.
(They even give a fuck about what happens after the baby’s born, unlike some moral crusaders.)
*I realise this sounds snobbish. It’s my experience, though, that when you take a person and say “do you like babies?” and they say “yes, everyone loves babies!”, antichoicers will decide that person is on their side. When you actually follow up and say “but do you think people should be forced to have babies when they’re 11 years old?” a rather different picture emerges.
So new research is out, apparently saying that we shouldn’t allow abortion on the grounds of mental health because abortion doesn’t affect mental health.
(They do suggest rewording our current legislation so as to further make it clear that we have abortion on demand but not really because Good Moral Doctors really get to make all the decisions, a suggestion which may have slightly biased me towards the belief that they are ignorant wankers.)
That question mark in the title is there because, like all Good Science, the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry wants some of my sweet sweet disposable income before it will grant me access to the full text. So I have to rely on the abstract, and the interpretation of a journalist. Because journalists are amazingly accurate when it comes to reporting science.
Anyway, to the abstract:
Objective: There have been debates about the linkages between abortion and mental health. Few reviews have considered the extent to which abortion has therapeutic benefits that mitigate the mental health risks of abortion. The aim of this review was to conduct a re-appraisal of the evidence to examine the research hypothesis that abortion reduces rates of mental health problems in women having unwanted or unintended pregnancy.
Conclusions: There is no available evidence to suggest that abortion has therapeutic effects in reducing the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy. There is suggestive evidence that abortion may be associated with small to moderate increases in risks of some mental health problems.
So, did it jump out at you, too? Let’s revisit:
in women having unwanted or unintended pregnancy
unwanted or unintended pregnancy
unwanted or unintended
I don’t know about you, but I hate the concept of surprise parties. They are unwanted (and, because they’re a surprise, pretty much always unintended). On the other hand, I know people who think surprise parties are the most fun ever. They’re unintended – because they’re a surprise – but, once they occur, very much wanted.
You think me and those people might have slightly different needs and responses and experiences of surprise parties?
Maybe pregnancy is slightly similar. Maybe a lot of people get pregnant without planning it but are actually really happy to be pregnant! Maybe their pregnancy is subsequently full of sunshine and rainbows
and morning sickness! Maybe including happy-surprise-pregnancy-people in with unhappy-surprise-pregnancy-people might, I don’t know (because I can’t access the full fucking article) skew things the tiniest bit?
The next problem, of course, is making statements like this:
Abortion was associated with small to moderate increases in risks of anxiety … alcohol misuse … illicit drug use/misuse …and suicidal behaviour …
Without noting whether or not you controlled for the fact that there’s a tiny bit of stigma around abortion in our society, like maybe people who get abortions are regularly labelled murderers or something. Maybe they, like, went to a clinic to get an abortion because they couldn’t feed another child on top of the ones they already have and some preachy douchefuck waved a plastic foetus at them and they decided to get a stiff drink afterwards. I fucking would.
Not convinced? Let’s consider that the president of ALRANZ, Dr Morgan Healey, thinks the paper shows good grounds for completely decriminalizing abortion in NZ. Bob McCoskrie, who wants to lock up your uterus, thinks it shows abortion is the Great Satan and must be made punishable by death.
You suppose maybe the results are a little bit open to interpretation?
So somehow it’s ended up being Abortion Week here at Ideologically Impure … but you know, clear and present evidence of the increased physical threat posed by our antichoice lobby will do that.
Your Uterus Life are once again insisting that ALRANZ doesn’t represent the NZ community.
So, I got around to watching last night’s episode of Close Up, and strangely did not walk away feeling like I needed to de-ice the freezer so I could smash up the ice in the sink to vent my anger.
Because what sums it up is this: when Mark Sainsbury interrupted Norman Maclean of Southlanders for
Killing Women Life, Norm said nothing.
When Alison McCulloch of ALRANZ interrupted Norm, he put on his very best unimpressed-headmaster voice and said “Please do not interrupt me when I’m in the middle of a sentence.”
He didn’t add “young lady” at the end, but you could see it hanging there in mid-air.
Here’s the important bit: Norman Maclean simply will not state what Southlanders For Hate will do if given the names of staff employed in the abortion services section of Invercargill Hospital.
Sure, five minutes after he was first asked he parrotted some line about being “committed to peaceful protest”, but subsequently tried to argue that if those staff feel intimidated and afraid to have their names published, that’s got nothing to do with an organised group declaring it’ll “name and shame” them, that’s just their problem. They’re just choosing to be afraid in the context of an organised group whose spokesman states that their work is “child abuse in the womb”. They’re just oversensitive about working in a world where people in their profession are regularly targeted, threatened, and murdered by so-called “pro–life” people.
Alison McCulloch put it very well: it doesn’t actually matter if every single member of Southlanders For Letting People Die is a cuddly vegan hippie (though it’s unlikely). Because if that information is published, there will be someone out there who will act on it.
Abortion clinics in this country have been firebombed. That’s the simple facts of the matter.
But Norman Maclean had another ridiculous card in his hand: the “consumer rights” card. Because all people have the “right to know who is providing their care.”
Like Alison said, can’t people just ask a midwife if they perform abortions?
What I want to know is – and it’s the same thing that made me think we should demand that they Name The Dentists, too – why does abortion make it on the list of things which so define a person’s identity that they’re an indelible part of their character?
Why not summon all the GPs in New Zealand to public hearings so we can ask them if they are now or have ever been a member of the Communist Party?
Like Alison McCulloch said, we know very well what happens to lists of doctors who perform abortions. Do any of us think we’ll see Norman Maclean take the tiniest bit of personal responsibility when a healthcare worker in Southland gets harassed, sent abusive mail, attacked?
I’m thinking not.
One thing about being a feminist is that you’re often marginalized or ignored or basically told to shut up because “come on, it’s not like there’s a group of dudes meeting in a dark, smoke-filled room to specifically plan how they’re going to pay women less/dehumanize oppressed groups/ensure rape culture is promoted.”
Well, here you go, sunshines. A document specifically advising antichoicers to say “mother” instead of “pregnant woman” (the irony of course being that many people who get abortions already have kids!) and “protect unborn children” instead of “ban abortion” and “abortionist” instead of “doctor” – while people who want to restrict your life entirely to the productive abilities of your uterus get to go around using their medical cred to give their arguments weight.
And let’s be clear here – I’ve always had something of a prochoice language playbook in my own head. I don’t say “pro-life” because that obviously frames opponents as “anti-life” (though they usually just say “pro-baby killing”). I say “anti-choice”. But the difference to me is this: calling a doctor an “abortionist” – when no doctor solely performs abortions – is dishonest framing designed to produce an emotional response.
Calling “pro-lifers” anti-choice is only “framing” in that it rejects their own. They are opposed to choice. They do not want pregnant people to be able to choose to have abortions. They are generally also opposed to the choice to use contraception, the choice to have sex outside of marriage, etc. Their specific goal is enacting legislation to remove people’s choices.
So yeah, I think “anti-choice” fits rather nicely. So nicely that in their own documents they advise not using the word “choice” at all.
There’s probably an antichoice argument that says “oh, but I do think doctors who perform abortions are so disgusting that it should be called out!”
But let’s look at that list. That list isn’t about “we think term X is more accurate because …” That list has a single purpose: using emotionally-laden language to perpetuate the idea that abortion is icky, that doctors who perform abortions which may save people’s lives are evil, and above all that women are good for nothing but popping out babies.
The document that list comes from? Is entitled “Defending the Pro-Life Position, and Framing the Issue by the Language We Use.”
[Content note: back-alley abortion methods, child sexual abuse]
You might have picked that I’m not in the habit of pulling punches, especially when it comes to fundamentalist, patriarchal bigots who want to reduce people with wombs to passive, ambulatory incubators.
The annual abortion figures for NZ were released yesterday – and to quote ALRANZ:
The Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ) welcomed figures released today showing a decrease in the number of abortions by 767 to 15,863 in 2011 compared with the previous year. The organization is hopeful that the drop from 16,630 in 2010 is a sign of increased access to contraception and the ability of women to choose the timing, spacing and number of children.
It would be interesting to have some insight into why this drop has occurred – economic conditions? Disruption to services in Christchurch? Statistical blip? Optimistically, better education and access to contraception? But the one place you know you’re not going to get that is from Bob McCoskrie and His Wonderful Boner:
“Teen abortions account for almost a 1/5th of all abortions in 2011,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “This is a tragedy for the girls involved, some as young as 11.”
First problem: 11-year-olds aren’t teens. Unless we’ve started pronouncing it “eleveteen”.
Second, actual problem: 68 abortions were performed on people aged 11-14 in 2011. It’s hardly a raging fucking issue, and you know what a person with a fucking soul would consider the tragedy here, Bob? That 68 children were raped. That 68 children had to be given care and help in order to not undergo a pregnancy which at the very least could have had huge physical health risks (we know how little you antichoice pigs actually care about mental health, don’t we? Or you wouldn’t stand outside hospitals harassing women who for all you know might be there to undergo an “abortion” of a wanted, but unviable, pregnancy.)
And let’s remember, Bob, while you’re acting so thrilled about the drop in abortions, that it may well mean that other children besides those 68 were forced to undergo pregnancy. Or ended up endangering their lives by employing any one of the many highly dangerous options available to a pregnant person who doesn’t want to be pregnant any more.
I’m just hoping that the fact we haven’t seen news reports of 12-year-old girls found dead in pools of their own blood is because that terrifying “68” figure includes all the children who did not want to be pregnant.
Of course, Bob doesn’t really care about 11-year-old rape victims. Here’s his answer to our current situation:
Family First NZ is calling for a law which requires informed consent (including ultrasound) for all potential abortions, and counselling to be provided only by non-providers of abortion services. Parental notification of teenage pregnancy and abortion should happen automatically except in exceptional circumstances approved by the court.
To ensure you have full information I’ve translated the above into English:
Family First wants women – including those 11-year-old rape victims – to be bullied into not having abortions, including through further nonconsensual vaginal penetration, and to add another obstacle in the way of people who already know they want abortions – obstacles which will increase the delay and thus the risk of the abortion. Family First believes children are nothing more than Daddy’s property and think you’re stupid enough to accept that abused children will miraculously be able to attend court dates (plus their five potential doctor’s appointments, plus that “unbiased” counselling) and won’t be at all traumatised by having to explain that they’ve been sexually abused to a bunch of strangers, under pain of being forced to continue an unwanted, dangerous pregnancy.
Hope that clears things up for y’all.
Meanwhile, Family Life International had this to say:
Those that come for healing regarding a past abortion are distressed even years later and realise that they must forgive themselves.
One cannot help but ponder that maybe if judgemental fucks like you didn’t spend your time browbeating pregnant people into feeling like baby-killers that wouldn’t be such a big deal.
Also, irony meter alert:
Where is the voice for these defenceless ones?
YOU DO REALISE YOU’VE JUST ISSUED A PRESS RELEASE, RIGHT? You do realise that there are TWO antichoice releases in response to these stats compared to ONE prochoice (on Scoop, as at time of writing)? But hey, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good bit of “we are just like the Christian martyrs persecuted by Nero!!!!” propaganda.
I’m with Dr Healey of ALRANZ: I would love to see fewer abortions, if it meant that people were educated and empowered and had access to the tools needed to control their own fertility and reproduction.
Bob and Family Life International, on the other hand, want to see fewer abortions because they think 11-year-old rape victims should be forced to be pregnant. (In their language, it sounds more like “but in our idealised 1950s utopia, there is no child sexual abuse because
bitches women Know Their Place!!!”)
Only plausible lesson to take from this? Antichoicers really hate women. Reeeeeeeally hate us.
(And don’t comprehend anything outside a strict sex/gender binary.)
Courtesy of Bryce Edwards, who thoughtfully compiles and categorises links of Kiwipolitical interest so other people don’t have to, I have come across an absolute doozy of a primer on antichoice rhetoric from the Southland Times.
I will pause for the inevitable Southland jokes.
Abortions breach “do no harm” ethic
OPINION: Norman MacLean explains his opposition to the advent of an abortion service at Southland Hospital, where for 35 years he was an obstetrician and gynaecologist.
Carole Heatly, the chief executive of the Southern District Health Board, says she wishes to “listen to the people”. These words are reassuring but do her actions match her words?
Let me save you reading the … well, frankly tedious and disconnected piece, which goes like this:
Norman knows that providing abortion services at Southland Hospital cannot really be the will of the people, because Norman knows the people, and they all coincidentally agree with his personal viewpoint.
Norman understands that the “distressing situation of young women with an unwanted early pregnancy is very real” requiring “wise counselling, and constructive practical support”. Unlike silly statisticians, who understand that the median age of people having abortions in NZ in 2010 was 25, and prochoicers, who understand that for someone who doesn’t want to be pregnant, abortion is “constructive practical support”.
Norman recalls a golden age when women in Southland could still get their medical needs seen to in their own reign, when “[in] all cases, additional medical opinions were sought and a panel of doctors made a decision in consultation with the mother and her husband/partner.” And everyone getting abortions were in monogamous heterosexual partnerships (I think it goes without saying they all presented as cis women.)
Norman understands that even though there are solid (and frankly bullshit) “conscientious objection” allowances built into our current legislation, doing abortions is just icky and wrong and defiles the holy sepulchre that is Southland Hospital. Which is why all the DHBs which do offer abortion services have been swallowed by hellmouths:
Consider the situation where, in one operating theatre, a termination list is proceeding where unborn babies are being deliberately destroyed, and in the next theatre a caesarean operating list is progressing where babies are being deliberately gently handled and saved.
To be honest, if they’re not shooting cord blood through the doors at each other with water pistols, I fail to see the problem. But then, I do tend to look on medical procedures as medical procedures. And I kinda understand how the vast majority of abortions take place long before there’s anything there that you’d want to “gently handle” (56% before week 10, according to those nasty statistics people.)
(Of course, the possibility of a person from Southland undergoing an abortion at a more advanced state of pregnancy is … well, not so much a possibility as a certainty, seeing as they have to travel outside their district to get their health needs seen to. That’s our Norman, doing what he can to risk women’s lives for their own good.)
(Also, “terminating list”? Don’t pretend your first thought wasn’t Arnie-related.)
Norman also cites Hippocrates and 2,500 years of “Western medicine” which forbids “the use of killing as a treatment option”. Which is kind of a hilarious phrase, and also not actually a cut-and-dried interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath.
Anyway, the point is that liberalising abortion is totally positively correlated with child abuse. In Norman’s head. It’s not his fault, most antichoicers have a lot of trouble understanding that most human beings can, in fact, tell the difference between a microscopic blob living off another person’s body and a born child.
Wait, no, the point is Mother Theresa. Also ultrasound, because we can see that foetuses look totally like babies at a stage far beyond the point at which roughly 99% of abortions are performed. No, the point is:
Science conclusively demonstrates that individual human life begins at conception.
Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuure it has. Remember kids, every time antichoicers say “life begins at conception” they actually mean “God is a mass murdering sadist, because 60-80% of those new lives are going straight into Mummy’s next tampon.”
(See what I did there, Norman? It’s called a citation. You need one.)
Let’s round the whole thing out with some classic “abortion causes mental illness” (because antichoicers really, really have a problem understanding that human lives are complex and multilayered … otherwise they’d have a very difficult time remaining antichoice) and some nice patriarchal denouncements:
Liberal abortion is simply not good medicine and this is why many Southlanders are deeply concerned this harmful procedure will be practised within our community.
Because no people from Southland actually get abortions. It’s just heaps of Canterbury slappers are itching to add a road trip to Invercargill to their next abortion party itinerary.
Now let’s remember:
Mr MacLean was a clinical obstetrician and gynaecologist at Southland Hospital for 35 years and was the clinical director in the department for 10 years, retiring in 2006. He remains working in Invercargill as a senior lecturer in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Otago Medical School.
And, one feels almost entirely certain, he’s never actually faced even the possibility of undergoing an unwanted pregnancy. But that’s okay, it just makes him rational and unbiased. Norman knows what’s best. Even if his arguments are lies.
A common refrain whenever the abortion issue gets raised in NZ is “but it’s legal here, and no one seems to be having problems getting it, so what’s the fuss?”
Well, (a) no it’s not, (b) on that basis, I’ve never known a guy with erectile dysfunction so let’s stop selling Viagra, shall we? and (c) the fuss is, to quote ALRANZ:
“A woman might see up to five doctors before a decision on whether to approve her abortion is taken”. More doctors to actually have the abortion, of course!
And they have a chart helpfully released under the Official Information Act to show why.
Five doctors. Who are probably pretty busy, who may not even be in the same town or province as you if you’re especially lucky, who all need to be convinced that you fall under the requirements of the law, with whom you have no previous relationship but nevertheless will have to discuss a very personal, possibly traumatic situation with … while time ticks away and your options become increasingly limited to riskier, surgical procedures. (Still a hell of a lot less risky than carrying a pregnancy to term – hey, I’m just trying to provide full information, here.)
I’d like you all to consider what other procedure you could possibly have to find five doctors to sign off on. Get a second opinion of your own free will, maybe – consult with a few specialists to get more detailed information, sure – but to be forced to see up to five doctors in order to exercise a basic choice about your own body?
Yeah, nah. Didn’t think so.
(For the lovely antichoice fuckheads out there: no, actually, this obstacle course presented to pregnant people has not a fucking thing to do with the magical sanctity of pweshus babby feeeetusses, because if it did, abortion wouldn’t be legal under any circumstances. It’s simply there to make the process more difficult for pregnant people – predominantly cis women – who were not trusted by our Parliament to make their own fucking choices. Not my fault your side has a massive lack of internal consistency. And empathy. And tragic tendency to be really, seriously obvious about your misogyny. But I digress.)