Saturday, September 03, 2011

Today we are talking about David Cunliffe

I don't actually want to talk about David Cunliffe. I want to write about the politics of television or active bystanders in rape prevention or the problems of the conflation with a moral body with a healthy body.

But then David Cunliffe talked about abortion:

He also supports the current state of New Zealand abortion laws and sees no reason to change them (this may or may not have anything to do with his statement that he is a practicing Anglican).
Now this is a very vague answer - probably deliberately so. It demonstrates why those of us who care passionately about abortion need to answer the questions ourselves. The most important information we need for MPs is not whether they think the law should change, but how they would vote if it did change.

What I want to draw attention to is how entirely unprincipled and unacceptable David Cunliffe's answer is. There is absolutely no way you can support the current law on principle - either disagree with the law, or you disagree with common practice.

The current law means that almost all women can get an abortion if they want one. However, in order to get access to an abortion we have to jump through hoops. For some women this means an extra visit to the hospital, another day off work, another trip across town, or further. For others it means travelling much further than is justified by the medical nature of abortion, from Palmerston North to Wellington or Invercargill to Christchurch. This price falls disproportionately on some women, as many prices do.

David Cunliffe is not the only MP whose response to questions about abortion - many MPs answer in a way which could be paraphrased as "My priority when it comes to abortion is never talking about it. They don't want to talk about abortion because they don't want to alienate people, or because they think it's kind of icky, or because they don't think it matters. So the law remains the same.

And this entire time women having abortions are paying a tax for MPs conscience. They're using an extra day's sick leave and paying for extra petrol every day 18,000 times a year. A generous interpretation of his priorities suggests he doesn't care about what women need to go through to get an abortion. A less generous interpretation would suggest that people like David Cunliffe want this tax, because they think abortion is a little bit icky and women should jump through hoops.

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