by Terry Bellamak

“40 Days for Life” is the time of year when anti-abortion folks try to make life harder for people who need abortion care, and for people who provide it. This usually takes the form of increased harassment of people entering and leaving abortion services, be they clients or medical staff.

Most years, ALRANZ counters the negativity as best it can. This year, ALRANZ has received even more support than we have in previous years, both from our supporters, and from the greater community.

Like last year, ALRANZ marked the occasion by taking up the #40daysfortruth project. This is the project where we post and tweet actual facts about abortion in New Zealand and around the world, with citations, to counter the falsehoods often bandied about by anti-abortion folks.

This year, we have had lots more community engagement with these posts. They have started conversations in many quarters, and we are delighted about that.

Last year, as in previous years, ALRANZ set up a funding page to give treats to some of the larger providers of abortion care in the main centres. We sent them flowers, and sometimes chocolates and other treats to thank them for the excellent care they provide their patients, in the face of so much bogus criticism.

This year, our funding page got such a huge response, with over $1000 donated, that we were able to send flowers, or flowers and treats, to every abortion service in New Zealand that we knew about. We are very grateful to our supporters, who gave generously, and even volunteered to deliver the treats to some of the 19 services. The professionals who provide abortion care are unjustly vilified in some quarters, so it was wonderful to be able to do something nice for them.

Last Sunday in Wellington, an ALRANZ supporter organised a counter protest to show our support for those who provide abortion care and those who need it. Around 70 people came, chanted, displayed signs, and waved to all the many cars that honked in support. It was a pleasant ending to what was supposed to be the season of strife, which turned out so differently.

I can only conclude that as people are paying more attention to abortion now that law reform is on the new government’s radar, they are following through with increased support for law reform. For that too, I am grateful.