opinion

Mia Freedman: Trust women to know when they can't continue a pregnancy.

On Saturday, three generations of women in my family marched for the right of women in New South Wales to choose if, when and how we become mothers.

This would seem to be a fundamental human right in 2019 and yet… there are politicians and members of our community who say it is not our right as women. They believe it’s a decision that must be taken out of our reckless, murderous lady hands and placed instead in the hands of the church and the state. Which is a terrific idea because priests and politicians have historically proven themselves wonderful custodians of morality.

The decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy is not a matter for the church. It’s not a matter for the state. It’s certainly not a matter for men like Tony Abbott or Barnaby Joyce or Fred Nile whose voices are inexplicably amplified as though they speak for mainstream Australia.

When it comes to abortion, that’s just factually incorrect just like it was factually incorrect on the subject of same-sex marriage which was wholeheartedly and open-heartedly supported by the vast majority of Australians. Every poll shows that more than 70 per cent of Australians – regardless of who they vote for – supports the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW and believes in a woman’s right to choose.

Explaining abortion to Uncle Barnaby. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

The vast majority of Australian voters trust women to make choices about their own lives and their own bodies.

Because having a baby is a huge decision and one that no woman should be forced or coerced into. Because accidents happen. Because some pregnancies aren’t viable. Because life. Because choice.

My mother fell pregnant by accident when she was 17. She wanted to have that baby and she did. It was the right decision for her. I fell pregnant by accident when I was 19. I was in an abusive relationship with an awful man and I did not want to have his baby so I had a termination. It was the right decision for me and for a child I did not want and could not look after.

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sydney womens march
Mia Freedman marched for the right of women in New South Wales to choose if, when and how we become mothers. Image: Supplied.

At the protest, surrounded by women of all ages and a smattering of men, with my arms around my daughter, my mother, my aunt and my cousin, I felt connected across generations to every woman who has ever bought a pregnancy test with fear in her heart or looked at her calendar and counted back to her last period with panic seeping through her. Every woman who has stood on the precipice of the biggest decision of her life.

Because we know, women know. We know when we can become mothers and we know when we can’t, when we mustn’t, when it’s not the right time.

At the centre of the fight to take abortion out of the Crimes Act in NSW is a very basic premise.

Those opposing the bill to decriminalise abortion are fear-mongering with their claims that women will ‘kill’ healthy babies at full term or callously abort babies due to their gender.

These claims are baseless. And they are not made by people who like, respect or trust women.

Women are not wandering the streets at six months pregnant looking for the opportunity to have an abortion because we changed our minds.

sydney womens march
"At the centre of the fight to take abortion out of the crimes act in NSW is a very basic premise." Image: Supplied.
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What is true is that 95 per cent of abortions in Australia happen before 14 weeks and only 1 per cent occur after 22 weeks  - under the care of teams of medical professionals. Do we really not trust women to make decisions about our own bodies? Do we really not trust women to know whether we are capable of having a baby or not? That’s what the current law says - that any woman who has an abortion is a criminal and must remain so. A position takes an extraordinarily dim view of women.

As for those whose religious or personal beliefs make them opposed to abortion, I will stand beside you and fight for your right not to have one. I will fight for your right to decide whether or not you have a baby because it’s one of the most monumental choices a woman will ever make.

What I ask - what I demand - is for you not to try and use your own personal views to determine the choices of other women to live their lives and control their own bodies in the way that’s best for them.

My mother knew she was capable of being a mother when she was 17. I knew I was not at 19 and again at 21. Just like when I fell accidentally pregnant at 25, I knew I was ready.

Trust women. Support the bill to decriminalise abortion.


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