Occasionally a politician proposes something so mind-bogglingly extreme and dangerous that it’s hard to fully believe they’re actually being serious.
Next Thursday will provide a clear example of this, as Legislative Councillors get the opportunity to debate changing the abortion laws in New South Wales. A bill put forward by Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi would, if it became law, completely remove all legal restrictions on abortion.
The Faruqi bill removes all prohibitions against unlawful abortions without proposing any regulation to fill the gaps or address the issues this creates. It legalises abortions at any stage of pregnancy, for any reason. To be clear, that means it would be entirely legal to perform an abortion on a nine-month-old, fully viable unborn baby an hour before birth.
And the extreme nature of this bill doesn’t stop there.
It also removes legal safeguards for women against abortion coercion, incompetent and unscrupulous medical practitioners and unqualified backyard abortionists. By focusing solely on an ideological obsession with abortion no matter the consequences, this bill completely ignores the needs of vulnerable women and would make abortion the very worst kind of unregulated free-for-all.
I recently met a woman who was coerced into an abortion under the current NSW abortion laws. Jaya’s fear is that “this law reform will further validate men like my ex- partner who do not value women and their children … Some women use that [cut-off] period as a safeguard. As a safeguard to say ‘Oh it’s too late to have an abortion now.’ Could you imagine the implications of a woman having an abortion right up until [her] due date?”
When my friends and I first heard that this bill was being proposed, and the immense damage that it would do, we all felt utterly sickened. I wanted to do something practical to stand up for women like Jaya.
I understand that abortion is a controversial issue. But how can anyone with an ounce of compassion support such a bill, that will lead to immense suffering both for women and for their unborn children?
But what could we actually do about it?
Just over a week ago, we saw online that Labor MLC Greg Donnelly will be tabling a petition calling on the Legislative Council to reject the Faruqi bill. But unlike most petitions nowadays, parliamentary petitions can only be printed off and signed by hand –not something that my generation is used to!
So we did what any millennial would do, and set up a Facebook group to try and encourage people to get involved. It started off small – just people we knew. At first, I was thinking maybe we could get a few hundred people to sign. But then friends added friends, who added their friends, and the whole thing grew exponentially. After a few days, the group had well over a thousand members keen to engage their local community.
We realised that we couldn’t stop at Facebook, so we started taking the petition out to everyone we could find – family and friends, workplaces and churches, even parents at their kids’ sports games. I heard about one shopkeeper in a small country town who kept the petition on his shop counter, and was amazed by how many of his customers signed once they heard what it was about.
So many signatures have been coming in that we haven’t even managed to finish counting them all yet, but by Friday afternoon we had counted 42,222. Over forty thousand signatures, all from one weekend alone. We’re doing it again this weekend, with volunteers attending churches of all denominations all over the state.
And yet we’ve seen enough to know that that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The disbelief and outrage from ordinary citizens in New South Wales as soon as they hear about this bill is something to behold. And those are just the people we’ve been able to reach in a handful of days.
Why isn’t this sentiment more widely known? I think that because some of the loudest voices come from the most extreme supporters of abortion, it can fool us into thinking that they are the majority. But actually, the complete opposite is true.
In less than one week, my small team of volunteers have the evidence that tens of thousands of NSW residents are shocked and appalled to hear that we could soon have abortion on demand up to birth, with zero safeguards for women.
Ordinary people in NSW are against this extreme abortion bill, which would be harmful to both women and their children. That’s the message we’ll be delivering along with this petition, and I hope that members of the NSW Legislative Council will listen to their constituents as they reject this extreme bill on Thursday.
Rebecca Gosper is a university student and the spokesperson for Youth for Life.
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