Hard decisions still have to be made


This is an open letter sent to Members of the Tasmanian Legislative Council. Support the Decriminalisation of Abortion in Tasmania has set up a website which will automatically forward your own letter to Members. They even have a draft letter ready to use if that helps. The main thing is, if you believe that women have the right to control their own fertility, without fear of criminal sanction, then the time is now to let the Members of the Legislative Council know. If you live in the electorates of Pembroke, Nelson or Montgomery, you are about to elect your new Member. Make termination and election issue. Not sure who your candidates are? Find out here.
Dear Member of Parliament
As a social worker at the former Queen Alexandra Hospital in Hobart, I witnessed
the decision to terminate a pregnancy from many perspectives. Young women
starting out in life terrified of an unplanned pregnancy, Gynecologists
struggling to straddle their duty of care within the obscurity of Tasmanian
laws, and couples in their second trimester facing the devastation that their
loved baby would not survive ex utero.
As a woman, I have also feared I might be pregnant, and I have shared that
experience with my family and friends in the same circumstances.
Without any doubt, in each situation where a woman has chosen to terminate a pregnancy,
the decision was confronting.
I also appreciate that the decision to support the decriminalisation of abortion
in Tasmania in the vote on the Reproductive
Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013
may be confronting for you.
There are many people that would like to make the current debate on termination a moral one.
For over a decade, we have had some provisions for termination in Tasmania.
The current debate however, is the legal jurisdiction of this medical procedure.
When deciding whether to terminate an unplanned or unviable pregnancy, each woman is
confronted by her own personal, health, social, spiritual and economic issues.
No woman, or her medical practitioner, should also need to confront a potential
criminal response to a medical procedure that has been decided after such significant consideration.
For this reason, I ask that you support the removal of abortion from the Criminal
Code and to make this medical procedure a matter for each individual woman, her
medical practitioner and the people she chooses to involve in that decision.
I write to ask you to continue the work that started in 2001 and transform
Tasmanian laws so they provide clarity to our medical professionals who need confidence
that they can fulfill their duty of care with the support of
the law. And in doing so, remove the subsequent stigma and barriers to access
that women face when they are most vulnerable.
In Tasmania, we cherish freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, in fact we
largely take these rights for granted. Similarly, we take for granted
our capacity to access health and human services unhindered. However, there are
also people who want to direct their personal, spiritual and moral
beliefs in protest, targeted at individuals accessing these very services.
I support their right to express their core values and protest their concern
about termination. However, I believe this right is only appropriately targeted
at lawmakers, not individual women. Whether it is a silent vigil, placard
holding or broadcast by loudspeaker, protest directed towards individuals is
tantamount to harassment and intimidation.
In this regard, I specifically commend the allowances in the Bill to provide an
access zone to prevent harassment of women and workers at clinics.
I close by respectfully requesting that you help pass the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013, without amendment, as a matter
of urgency.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.


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