by Terry Bellamak
Another International Women’s Day comes and goes, and New Zealand women still don’t have the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to receive abortion care. In the land of Kate Sheppard and Suffrage 1893, women are still not treated as adults capable of making medical decisions for themselves.
ALRANZ has fought for reproductive rights for almost 50 years. We will continue the fight until women and pregnant people are treated with dignity and equality. Our job just got a bit easier, though.
On Wednesday we launched Abort the Stigma, a Facebook page where people can tell their stories about abortion.
It might seem like a small thing, just one more drop in an ocean of women shaping their own lives in the face of patriarchal shame and judgment. But these firsthand stories make it harder for the anti-abortion crowd to pretend abortion care is something that just ‘happens’ to women rather than something they seek out for their own good reasons Every new story told, every new voice that speaks up, adds to the evidence that refutes the anti-abortion rhetoric that abortion care only has negative consequences.
Common sense and experience tell us that’s not true. 95% of people do not regret their abortions.
What is regrettable is the fact we still need the approval of two random certifying consultants to get health care; we still face delays of 25 days on average from referral to procedure; we cannot access early medical abortions according to international best practice.
These stories of women who did the best they could for themselves and their families, and are satisfied with the outcome, show the vital importance of people choosing their own lives.
The government says law reform is on its way, change that will see abortion care treated as the health care it is. It can’t come a moment too soon. Let’s hope next year’s International Women’s Day fulfils the promise of full sovereignty over our own bodies.