The other day at NSW Parliament House we saw a panel of women from the community discussing the concerns and implications of the upcoming abortion bill.
The session was opened by Rachael Wong, a barrister and researcher from Women’s Forum Australia. She outlined the legal issues of this bill, particularly that it allows abortion up to birth for any reason, and allows anyone to perform such an abortion without prosecution. She was then followed by Clair Cantrall, a family lawyer, and Dr Anne Gilroy, a GP from Bathurst, who discussed the issue of the right to conscientious objection to abortion procedures. Dr Gilroy made the point that nearly all medial doctors and students that she has trained had entered the profession to care for patients, not to terminate them. She recounted her experience of being pressured to be involved in referrals for abortions, and the trauma and difficulty this had caused her personally.
However, the most powerful speech of the day was from Jaya Taki, the former girlfriend of NRL star Tim Simona. Her story was a tragic one, having become pregnant unexpectedly and, upon wanting to keep her unborn child, she was pressured by Tim with him saying that having the child would ruin him financially. She was eventually and tragically pressured into the abortion and said that she struggles to live with the decision, and has contemplated taking her own life over and over. Her story highlighted that we don’t need laws to legalise abortion up to birth, we need better safeguards and protections for those women and children who are most vulnerable.
The panel made clear that this bill harms women, harms doctors, and harms unborn children.
Cover image by Giovanni Portelli.