Protecting Reproductive Rights in NSW
Our Involvement Past and Present
In 2013 and 2014, The Sydney Feminists was involved in the major campaign of preventing a foetal personhood bill from going through the NSW parliament. Due to ongoing efforts by various women's groups, legal entities and individuals, the bill did not go through the Upper House of the NSW Parliament and lapsed in late 2014.
In 2015, The Sydney Feminists decided to return to its original role as a media education organisation, using documentaries to inform others about ongoing feminist issues. We have held, and will continue to hold, free public screenings of documentaries like "The Purity Myth" and "After Tiller" to raise awareness about the state of reproductive rights in the modern world and what battles still need to be fought. If you would like a screening of one of these films in your school, university or community space, please get in touch.
History from 2014
The Most Recent Battle in NSW: Foetal Personhood Bill
Many feminists are aware of the plight of our American sisters in the USA as the far right continue to attack their reproductive rights. One way the Pro-Life movement is doing this is introducing bills that would grant "personhood" to a foetus over a certain number of weeks gestation. This separates the foetus from the woman's body, and in the case of abortion, including emergency medical abortions, complications arise in regards to the law and what is or isn't considered murder. We have seen such cases in South America and Ireland, where women come second to the unborn foetus inside them and die as a result. Foetal Personhood is one way of controlling women's reproductive decisions and is a well-used strategy of the religious right.
Abortion is still a criminal offense in NSW. The recent introduction of Zoe's Law 2 (Crimes Amendment Bill (No.2) has raised the issue of granting foetal personhood to a foetus aged 20 weeks. For more information about background of this bill, who introduced it and why, read this excellent, informative and clear piece by Jenny Noyes: On Zoe’s Law, And The Accidental/On Purpose Erosion Of Your Reproductive Rights
Many women's groups have protested this private members bill. Despite numerous legal and health organisations opposing the bill, (including the Australian Medical Association and the NSW BAR Association) it still passed the Lower House of Parliament in late 2013 with a frightening number of votes (63-26). The next stage of this struggle was to pressure politicians in the Upper House of Parliament not to allow the bill to pass.
Due to the successful campaigning of the F Collective, a Sydney feminist collective, and numerous other groups and entitites, "Zoe's Law" was not brought to a vote by the Upper House, the Bill effectively lapsed, and it will not be able to be voted on in this form ever again. To quote from Dr Mehreen Faruqi, a Greens MP in the NSW Upper House:
"For now, the women of NSW are free from the dangers of foetal personhood, as the bill has lapsed. However, in the next parliament we need to move towards full decriminalisation of abortion as a legislative priority. I have started this debate by giving notice of a bill that would do this."