Pro-Choice Rally in opposition to the March for the Babies

Last Saturday members and supporters of the Australian Sex Party attended the Pro-choice rally which was organised in opposition to the March for the Babies (an anti-choice rally) outside the Victorian Parliament.

babies5Our presence at this rally certainly stirred up some debate on our facebook page, with comments from both sides of the argument.  All points made were passionate and well thought through.  Please feel free to add to them.

I would like to thank everyone who came along and showed their support, particularly the wonderful and eloquent Merinda who addressed the rally.  Her speech is below, and you can read her thoughts on the day at her blog: Quietly Questioning.

I am here today as a woman, and as a student. Let me start by emphasizing that education is centrally important to achieving equality, addressing poverty, preventing unemployment, homelessness and a host of other issues which impact individuals and the whole of society. Access to education is therefore pivotal. In my primary and high school days, I sat in classrooms with boys, being told that I was the same as them, being told that I could do anything. That as a girl and as a woman, there was nothing that was impossible. As I grew older, what a surprise it was to find that equality is still being fought for.  How amazed I was that it wasn’t until 2008 that Victoria removed abortion from it’s criminal statutes – after I had graduated from high school and had begun my tertiary education. All this while some women of my generation question the need for feminism and believe that full equality was achieved some time ago.

Reproductive rights are about more than just abortion. They include access to all forms of contraception, adoption, IVF, excellent pre- and post-natal care for those who give birth, as well as sterilisation.  Abortion is part of reproductive rights as a whole and I would like to emphasise that each of these are important for men, women and trans identified people – all people should have access to reproductive justice. Later this afternoon, the March for the Babies protesters will try to separate abortion from all of these things. Abortion must stay within a reproductive rights context and every element of reproductive justice is as important as the next. Last year at this protest I was shocked to hear one anti-choice protester say that she would rather be raped than have an abortion. A strong feeling that I personally disagree with, however she illustrates my point perfectly – this is about choice and personal freedom – if you do not want an abortion, then please, do not have one.

Speaking of personal freedoms, I would also like to talk about sexual freedom. It all sounds very 1970s and free-love, but sexual freedoms are the ones which governments target first. They are hard to defend because the moralizing parts of our society attack them as being debaucherous, immoral or unwanted in the first place. They have been described as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ or the barometer which tells us when freedoms in our society are beginning to be eroded. Reproductive rights are inherently linked to sexual freedom, as we cannot achieve sexual freedom without proper access to reproductive rights.

This brings me to my next point. We must trust women, trust them to make decisions which are best and right for them. Women must be able to decide when, if and how they have children. Women, including women students, are more than incubators and we must treat them as such. Women deserve equality before the law and the respect which comes with trusting women to make reproductive decisions. We must say to women ‘you are responsible and have your own moral integrity’ and allow women to exercise that responsibility and integrity. In Victoria, we are lucky that the law largely allows women to do that. In other states, we must fight so that women are afforded the rights they are entitled to. The prosecution of a young woman and her partner in Cairns should serve as a wake up call to all of us – this issue is centrally important and although these laws very old, they are still being enforced, and we must not assume any differently. Victoria can never go back.

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Senator Harradine a Worthy but Deluded Opponent: Eros

HarradinePortrait

The Eros Association today paid tribute to the man they locked horns with more times than they cared to remember. Eros CEO Fiona Patten said that he was a formidable political opponent, driven by his religious convictions and a cultural mindset stuck in the 1950s. “From the late 1980s onward, he used his balance of power in the Senate to try and roll back the supernova of eroticism that was exploding all around him”, she said. “He knew how to work a government like nobody else and was always one step ahead of them in his efforts to ban pornography. But he did not understand that the technological revolution of the 1990s was the beginning of a new way of life and that pornography was an integral part of that life. He thought if you can control the brown paper bags, you could control what was in them.”

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Corbell’s Crackdown on Drugs Misses the Mark: Sex Party

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ACT Attorney General, Simon Corbell has sided with the old style prohibitionists by introducing new drug laws in the ACT Parliament today. Australian Sex Party President, Fiona Patten, said the laws will continue to fail and will be rejected by Canberrans’ progressive attitudes.

She said marijuana and heroin had been banned for almost 100 years in Australia but were never more popular than now. ‘It is disappointing to see a Gen X Attorney General, supporting the same tired old prohibitionist policies that ignorant politicians used to ban alcohol as far back as the 1920s’, she said. ‘We support his moves to reduce the numbers of young people going to jail for personal possession of drugs but it is disingenuous in the extreme to try and separate out different ends of the recreational drug market and makes saints out of one end and sinners of the other. Reducing the harm done to people and society by recreational drug use requires a holistic approach based in the health portfolio - not in the criminal justice one.’

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