Last year I came here and talked about my abortion experience. I mentioned how I was turned away from a doctor when asking for information, and then when I searched the internet I found only pages telling me that I was going to end a life.
I brought this sign because in the year since I had that abortion, I realised that the only life that would have ended would have been my own, if I hadn’t had the right to choose.
I’m here today, and will be here every year, to show that I want to see an end to the anti-choice movement. These people harass women outside medical clinics, even going so far as murdering people. What’s more, they poison people’s minds.
I think most of us who have had, or considered an abortion have been disturbed in some way by anti-choice sentiment. When I was turned away by that doctor, I felt scared and alone. Many women are even psychologically tortured into feeling crippling regret for simply exercising their rights.
However, I don’t think that the extent of the damage caused by the ‘pro-life’ movement ends at harassment. It’s part of a bigger problem. To paraphrase Sister Joan Chittister, these people are not pro-life; they are pro-birth. They don’t care about whether a child is fed, loved, clothed, educated. It’s because this movement does not rally for the life of a foetus, it rallies against the rights of women.
This is a tactic of oppression. It’s subtler than perhaps, using rape as a tool of war or mutilating the genitals of women, but it is part of the anti-woman agenda. Here in Australia, it is easy for these people to get away with preaching misogyny under the false pretence of religion. They are a vast minority, but hatred does not belong in our society in any concentration.
To show support for choice, as we are doing here and at the clinic defences, shows our strength and our determination to end women’s oppression, because if we can’t control our own bodies what strength can we have?
Thank you to all who came here today to support Victoria’s momentous abortion legislation, and the preservation of women’s right to choose.
Paisley Semrau is a 19 year old feminist activist who has a special interest in human rights