Sixty women who each had ‘illegal’ abortions in NSW have laid down the gauntlet and challenged authorities to ‘Arrest Us’ ahead of the state parliament debating a decriminalisation bill today.
The #ArrestUs call was led by Emily Mayo who declared “Now is the time for it to change. Today, it is time again, for those of us who can stand up and speak out to do so.”
The move, backed by high profile women including Wendy McCarthy, Jenna Price, Wendy Bacon and Nareen Young, echoes a campaign McCarthy led 50 years ago.
Our Names: pic.twitter.com/PF0QrQl7Ur
— Emily Mayo (@iamemilymayo) August 5, 2019
“In the early 1970s eighty women declared themselves to be criminals in a national newspaper, taking out an advertisement as a provocation in the campaign to decriminalise abortion,” a post on Facebook announced on Monday afternoon.
“Fifty years on and abortion is still technically a crime in NSW. A bill to be debated in NSW Parliament this week seeks to finally change that. Should it pass women in NSW will finally have the freedom to make our reproductive health choices without facing the challenges presented because abortion is criminalised.”
The statement ends: “We have all had abortions under NSW laws that define abortion a crime. We want to be the last. We say: Arrest us.”
— Professor Nareen Young (@nareenyoung) August 5, 2019
Within hours social media was flooded with posts from other women adding their voices and stories of “illegal” abortions to the conversation.
“Women who have had abortions make 'Arrest us' call on Facebook”
— Summer May Finlay (@SummerMayFinlay) August 5, 2019
"In the 1970s 80 women declared themselves as criminals in a national newspaper, taking out an advert as a provocation in the campaign to decriminalise abortion. 50 yrs on & abortion is still technically a crime in NSW" #ArrestUs. I share my story in solidarity #VoteProChoiceNSW https://t.co/o4m1AcmnaV
— Dr Laura Hammersley (@LauraAH110) August 5, 2019
— Gina Rushton (@ginarush) August 5, 2019
I can’t even remember the year I had an abortion but I am so thankful I was able to have it. We must be able to have abortions in NSW without being criminalised. #ArrestUs
— Lisa Bryant (@LisaJBryant) August 5, 2019
Rallies are already well underway in Sydney with pro-choice and anti-abortion activists gathered outside parliament in Macquarie Street for today’s debate.
— Jenna Price (@JennaPrice) August 5, 2019
Uniting Church clergy at rally outside NSW parliament as the chamber of our democratic representatives prepares to "debate" the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW. I bet those naysayers were vehemently against women becoming clergy too. #ArrestUs pic.twitter.com/p4BxdrHi41
— Isabel M (@mumdaze) August 5, 2019
— Our Bodies Our Choices (@OurBodiesChoice) August 5, 2019
The cross-party bill allows for terminations up to 22 weeks and later abortions if two doctors approve. The private bill, introduced by Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, has the support of Labor and the Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian but other senior ministers are reportedly undecided.
Here’s the @NSWParlLA link to our bill to regulate abortion as a health care matter & my introduction speech outlining the provisions in it. It’s sad that some our politicising women’s reproductive rights with misinformation & moral judgement https://t.co/cgOpdbWCjS pic.twitter.com/gtwjCbmd1K
— Alex Greenwich MP (@AlexGreenwich) August 2, 2019
The Uniting Church supports the bill while the Catholic & Anglican Churches are vehemently opposed.
— Isabel M (@mumdaze) August 5, 2019
NSW is the only state in Australia that is yet to reform its abortion laws. It is time.