Hundreds of people gathered outside the US Consulate in Perth, defiantly chanting “my body, my choice.”
The protest’s organiser Nicole McEwen, a recent graduate of University of Western Australia, told the ABC the changes to US law can impact our legal rights here in Australia.
“It was such an important and essential decision for them historically, and then through decades of far right and conservative and evangelical groups organising around this issue, they managed to undermine it,” McEwan said.
“Obviously we do have those evangelical and right-wing groups here in Australia.”
“I don’t think we’re going to lose the right to abortion tomorrow, but I do think it’s something that we do need to be organised and steadfast around.”
“The fact that our abortion is still regulated by the criminal code, and the fact that it’s so inaccessible and expensive, is a really important issue here that I thought women and other people would resonate with that.”
In Australia, Western Australia remains the only state that has not decriminalised abortion. In the state, abortion remains regulated by the criminal code, permitted only with the approval of two doctors up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. After 20 weeks, access to abortion is extremely restricted.
Jamal Hakim, Managing Director of MSI Australia, an abortion, vasectomy and contraception provider, told Women’s Agenda that abortion access remains limited in our country, especially for those in regional areas.
“In Australia, abortion access remains a postcode lottery,” Hakim said. “More and more people can’t afford services, funding is minimal and the systems are disparate and vastly different across the country.”
“Universal access requires coordination, funding, and viability to ensure continuity.”
Adrianne Walters, Associate Legal Director with the Human Rights Law Centre, urged Western Australia to prioritise reforming its abortion laws.
“Most states in Australia have now reformed their laws to decriminalise abortion and ensure that abortion is treated as healthcare,” Walters said.
“South Australia’s reforms will finally commence in two weeks. However, Western Australia still lags behind. It is beyond time for the McGowan Government to act.”
“It’s important to remember that the law is only part of the picture. Access to reproductive healthcare in Australia is tenuous for many. There is so much more that governments can do to properly fund and support reproductive healthcare around Australia, from increased public funding to nurse-led care. This would result in better health outcomes for everyone.”
A second protest in Perth has been organised for Saturday July 2 at 3pm, beginning at Murray St Mall on the corner of Forrest Place.
Several Roe v Wade Solidarity Rallies are also planned over the next week across Australia’s major cities:
In Wollongong, a protest will take place on Saturday July 2 at 12pm gathering at Crown Street Mall Amphitheatre.
In Brisbane, a protest will take place on Friday July 1 at 5:30pm, gathering at King George Square.
In Adelaide, the solidarity protest will begin at 5pm on Friday July 1 at Beehive Corner in Rundle Mall.
And finally, in Canberra, a protest will begin on Saturday July 2 at 12pm, starting at Garema Place.
Image: Rebecca Trigger, ABC