July 22, 2010
Protest abortion prosecution in Queensland, Australia
In April 2009, the state of Queensland charged a 19-year-old woman and her partner under its archaic Criminal Code: the woman for procuring her own miscarriage and her partner for importing RU486 to enable the abortion. These are the first abortion-related charges to be laid in Queensland since the prosecution of two doctors in 1985; in Australia, this is the first against a woman in over 50 years. The couple face up to seven years' imprisonment.
Abortion is still a crime throughout most of Australia, despite over 80% of the population supporting a woman's right to choose. In 2008, the state of Victoria decriminalized abortion, setting an example for others to follow. (Abortion has also been legal in the Australian Capital Territory since 2002.) The Queensland case signals an orchestrated rightwing backlash. Already, doctors registered to use RU486 have announced that they will no longer perform medical abortions until the law is changed.
Pro-choice Queenslanders are fighting back. The Pro-Choice Action Collective (PCAC) and Children by Choice are two organizations campaigning to win abortion rights in that state. Radical Women is playing a leadership role in the Melbourne campaign to stop the prosecution.
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