by Terry Bellamak

2020 was not all bad.

This was the year New Zealand joined the 21st century and decriminalised abortion, making it more accessible and treating it as a part of health care. People who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy will find it progressively easier to access the care they need as the Ministry of Health implements the new law.

Around the world views of abortion care are changing, sometimes amongst the people and sometimes amongst their leaders as well.

Poland’s government is still dealing with the massive blowback that ensued when their highest court attempted to tighten their retrograde abortion laws even further. The outrage has come not only from Poles, but from many other countries and NGOs, and it has been loud and long.

In Argentina, the new president has finally gotten around to proposing a law to make abortion care accessible there. The people of Argentina are ready.

Throughout Latin America, people are demanding change, throwing off the weight of cultural Catholicism and embracing equality for women and LGBTQI+ folks.

In the USA, though the Trump administration has managed to stack the highest court with rightwing hacks, the election of Biden has opened many options for improving access both nationally and internationally in spite of Trump’s toxic legacy. The first step will be to remove the Global Gag Rule as soon as possible, so that NGOs around the world can get back to providing the health care that people need.

Closer to home, soon all the Australian states will have liberalised abortion laws and safe areas as well.

And in Invercargill, when anti-choicers crashed the Santa Claus Parade, they had to do it underhand. The parade’s organisers apologised immediately because people complained. It no longer needs to be explained why advocating for forcing people to continue unwanted pregnancies is a bad thing.

History’s arc is long, but it really does bend toward justice. Treating women as a breed apart, uniquely obligated to sacrifice their bodies, interests, and free will to carry every pregnancy to term, is no longer considered acceptable by the vast majority of New Zealanders.

Around the world younger people are more likely to support equal rights in all forms, including reproductive rights, than their elders. A glance backward into history shows the trajectory of human rights and their increasing acceptance.

There is much reason to expect the future to be even brighter than the present.