Abortion Law and Policy: Taking Action for a Change
Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Ireland, Chile, Australia, Russia

22 August 2016

The Feminist Forum is a space of learning, exchange and discussion for feminists in the Dominican Republic.
On 20 July, they called on President Danilo Medino to stop the process of discussion of the clause in the new Penal Code in the Senate that would make all abortions subject to a prison sentence of 4-10 years. They said that since his party, the PLD, has an absolute majority, they have the power to do so. On the same day, Dr Waldo Ariel Suero, President of the Dominican Medical College (CMD), said that the criminalization of abortion in the Penal Code by the Chamber of Deputies will encourage clandestine abortions and increase maternal mortality.
On 25 July, Lourdes Contreras, coordinator of the Centre for Gender Studies of the Santo Domingo Institute of Technology, said the decision of the Chamber of Deputies to exclude exceptions to the criminalization of abortion from the Draft Criminal Code was shameful and showed a disappointing lack of appreciation of the lives of women on the part of the members of the Lower House and contravened the spirit of the Dominican Constitution, which recognizes equality between men and women...

Pro-choice demonstration outside a hospital providing abortions to counter anti-abortion harassment

In response to anti-abortion harassment of women going into the local hospital for abortions, the pro-choice group in Thames, New Zealand, vowed to demonstrate each week alongside them. On 4 August, 40 people attended a pro-choice community meeting in the town, and the group held its first pro-choice demonstration on 5 August to support women seeking abortion services.

Green MP, Catherine Delahunty, said at the demonstration. "I don't think that they have an understanding of how damaging these actions have been, not only to those women going to the health services but for people who have been traumatised by their own experiences," she said.

The anti-abortion group was not present on 5 August. They claimed it was because they had been made aware after five years of picketing that they needed to get a permit... FULL STORY


Children's Minister, Katherine Zappone

Repealing the 8th Amendment won't be enough, according to Irish Children's Minister and two senior legal figures

Ireland's Children's Minister, Katherine Zappone, believes that only offering abortions in cases of incest, rape and fatal fetal abnormality would "do nothing at all for most women in Ireland". She argued that "Winning a referendum requires… a good knowledge base, factual counter-points to misinformation, and a large and organised canvassing effort across the entire country with clear and broad political support… Right now, only a limited referendum to allow for abortion in cases of risk to life, rape, incest, and fatal fetal abnormality seems able to muster those ingredients for success." While she thought this would be an improvement on the current situation of almost no abortions at all, it would not go far enough for most women in Ireland who wish to access abortion.

Several senior legal figures hold a similar point of view. Conor O’Mahony, a senior lecturer in constitutional law at University College Cork, also warned that repealing the 8th amendment would not excise the unborn’s right to life from the constitution, because pre-1983 court judgments also applied. These precedents make it imperative that legislation is proposed as part of a repeal referendum to clarify what would be permissible in its aftermath...


4th annual demonstration for abortion law reform 25 July, pro-choice poster art around the University of Chile in Santiago, and the case of an 11-year-old pregnant from repeated sexual abuse – all in the news
On 25 July, there were demonstrations in Santiago and Valparaiso in Chile, for the 4th year in a row, calling for free abortion with no restrictions because women have abortions. Pro-choice posters around the University of Chile have been put up, arguing that all women should have access to misoprostol, and that there are infinite reasons why a woman might choose an abortion, these posters are part of a larger feminist movement growing across the country.

On 11 August, the case of an 11-year-old girl from the Araucania region who became pregnant after repeated sexual abuse by her 41-year-old stepfather came to light and is causing controversy, not least because the authorities were not allowing the pregnancy to be terminated.

This report has led to renewed calls on President Michelle Bachelet to move the abortion law reform bill forward. The reason why the abortion is not being allowed is, according to the report in La Nación, that the new law limits the termination of pregnancy in the event of rape to 14 weeks. However, given the girl's young age, taking the pregnancy to term would also represent a risk to her life, which should have no time limits...


Abortion law reform bill has its second reading and 1,000 safe abortions via telemedicine in New South Wales

On 11 August, New South Wales Green MP, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, gave the second reading speech for the Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill 2016 in the Upper House of the New South Wales (NSW) parliament. It is the first abortion law reform bill in NSW history. She then adjourned the debate to allow time for lobbying of MPs to support the bill. 

She said that the bill "does three things. It repeals existing abortion offences, requires doctors to disclose a conscientious objection, and provides for safe access zones around reproductive health clinics…" She also referred to a poll in NSW in September 2015 which found that some 87% of surveyed NSW residents supported the right to choose, particularly in rural and regional areas, where services are less accessible.

Also this month, Dr Paul Hyland, the Medical Director of the Tabbott Foundation in NSW, announced that on 9 August, they had reached 1,000 abortions safely via telemedicine, only 300 days after launching the service... FULL STORY

Moscow: International Women's Day 2013,
Conservative religious groups call meeting in Novosibirsk to condemn state-funded abortions

The news from Russia does not get better. On 20 July, representatives of "traditional religious confessions, public organisations, political and patriotic movements, and specialists providing services in the field of the protection of motherhood and childhood in Novosibirsk and the Novosibirsk Oblast, doctors, and the teaching and parental communities" took part in a roundtable entitled: “Abortion and its state funding as factors undermining the sovereignty of Russia and threatening its national security”.

The round table was held to support the appeal of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the State Duma on 22 January 2015 to remove abortion from the compulsory medical insurance system because the great majority of abortions are not done for medical reasons.

According to the participants, the question of increasing the population is one of the survival of a sovereign state. Therefore the issue of abortions in Russia, due to their prevalence, acquires the character of a national threat in terms of the demographic crisis. Some of the participants called for law reform to protect the lives of unborn children... FULL STORY

Editor: Marge Berer

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