I do have a lot to say about the recent High Court decision on abortion. But I lost my voice (not metaphorically I've had a cold), and I'm trying to recover. So you'll have to wait for my own thoughts. What I have to respond to straight away is the attempt, by smug labour-party men to use this as political point scoring.
Chris Trotter wrote:
So, all of you young, confident women of the 21st century urgently need to pause and reflect upon what is happening – especially all you young, confident women thinking of voting for the National Party.
The Standard quoted this approvingly and added:
A National government would change the direction of this country, away from social reforms to greater conservatism and even regression on social issues. National opposed civil unions, prostitution reform, paid paternal leave, s59, and every other social reform.Notice the sleight of hand, the ease at which they move away from talking about a women's right to decide whether to go through pregnancy. In order to pretend that the labour government has supported women's right to an abortion, they have to avoid talking about abortion. Because the last substantial changes to our abortion law were passed in 1978, under Muldoon. The reason that Justice Miller can say that there is reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions, is that our abortion law was designed to make most abortions illegal. The people who wrote our abortion law, were the sort of people who argue that rape shouldn't be a criteria for abortion, because then women will claim to have been raped in order to get an abortion.
Helen Clark and Phil Goff spoke out about how bad the law we have now is back when it passed, but they haven't done anything about it, since they had the power to.* Sue Bradford, Sue Kedgley, Keith Locke, Ruth Dyson, Margaret Wilson, Marianne Hobbes, Maryann Street - they were prepared to fight this battle in the 1970s, before they got into parliament, they were feminists (or feminist supporters) then. And it's not just those who are in parliament now the numbers have been there for at least the last nine years, others had their chance: Jonathan Hunt, Matt Robeson, Laila Harre, and especially Phillida Bunkle.
Any one of those MPs could have written a private members bill that ended this. 18,000 women every year have the stress of jumping through certifying consultant hoops to get an abortion. First trimester abortions become second trimester abortions, because no-one gives a damn about those women. And now things may get worse, the Abortion Supervisory Committee may tighten the screws on certifying consultants, the hoops may get higher and the. None of this would have happened if any of the MPs who believe that women have a right to choose whether or not to end their pregnancy had acted on their beliefs.
Despite this Chris Trotter and The Standard are still trying to use abortion law as a reason to vote Labour. If we're not good, if we don't do what they want, things will get worse. But if Chris Trotter or The Standard really cared about women's control of their bodies, they would have said something before now. They would have spoken up for the hundreds of women each week who go through the certifying consultant process. They weren't prepared to fight for something better than the bad system that we've got now. Chris Trotter doesn't even care about abortion enough to get his fact rights, arguing that 1978 was the year women won the right to safe legal abortion in New Zealand - in 1978 there were 100 women a week who had to fly to Australia to get safe legal abortions.
* Twenty years ago, when she was Minsiter of Health, Helen Clark proposed a bill that would allow all doctors to be certifying consultants. She gave up pretty quickly and hasn't tried anything since.