Voice for Life issued a press release last week claiming that those of us campaigning for the decriminalisation of abortion in NZ are, among other things, using Nazi propaganda tactics (sigh…) to lie to you about the illegal status of abortion in NZ. It hasn’t escaped my notice that anti-choicers have been leaning heavily on the ‘it’s not really illegal anyway’ spade since the issue of decriminalisation resurfaced last year – with some key anti-choice figures outright claiming that abortion is in fact already legal in NZ.
Which is interesting, considering that anti-choice websites in NZ dedicate quite the page space to how illegal it is – and how terrible it is that so many ‘illegal’ abortions are being done (only two of many, many websites) in reality due to the ineffective outdated legislation we have in NZ. It seems whether or not abortion is legal or illegal depends on which corner anti-choicers feel backed into.
Again, I must emphasise that the facts are that abortion is illegal in NZ, unless a doctor and their patient in most situations are forced to fudge reality a little to get the procedure done legally. This adds unnecessary stigma and guilt upon women who are already making a difficult decision.
It heavily contributes to the very guilt and isolation anti-choicers claim to care so much about when asking women to reach out for ‘forgiveness’. It’s almost like they want the woman to feel tormented about her decision. Why else would they have empathetic-appearing website front pages like Family Life International or Voice For Life? Front pages for misinformation judgement and condemnation. Front pages for fundamentalist anti-choicers who share their real feelings about the women they appear to want to help in sickeningly misogynist tones on their blogs. If that’s ethical behaviour to anti-choicers then I have genuine concerns about any of their promotion of ‘ethics’.
The other major concern pro-choice activists have about abortion’s illegal status is accessibility for women who need it – which varies hugely depending on location.
This ties into another argument NZ anti-choicers are currently promoting. That pro-choice campaigners are lying to you about whether an abortion is ‘easy’ to get or not by claiming both are true. But the reality is they are – we live in New Zealand – a country with few large urban centres and many large rural areas. Of course large chunks of women near urban centres can ‘easily’ access abortions. But those in rural areas find things much, much more difficult and traumatic due to a lack of access, and they are equally important. It is not a case of is it A or B, it’s both. That’s why we have a problem with the current law, and that’s why we need decriminalisation – so our rural sisters have the same access to choices our urban women do.
Nobody campaigning for decriminalisation is trying to scare women into thinking they could be arrested for getting an abortion. Taking abortion out of the Crimes Act will not encourage women to have more abortions. And women are not so thick that they are going to become scared of having an abortion because other women want to help them access the abortion they need. It’s illogical.
But that’s what it seems to be about, isn’t it? Women are inherently inferior. We need men to tell us what to do with our bodies, because they know us best and don’t want us going to hell because we’re fickle creatures who will make bad decisions, terribly misjudging what we think we know is best for ourselves and our families (including contraception) – which will cause us to become more hysterical and require male counsellors in an effort to assuage our tormented souls. Why? Because we are baby-killing murderers.
And that is EXACTLY why morality and law should remain separate. Because our society needs rules based on everyone’s reality – not just the realities of (well-meaning) privileged, conservative, often religious men who will never understand what it is like to be a woman – let alone represent ALL women and their very varied realities.