Tags: indictable offence

27 Jul 2007, Comments Off on Piker


Author: Helen

Pike, v. colloq., ~ on, withdraw timidly from. [ME, perh.f.PIKE1]


While the news fairly swirls with drama– the phoney election campaign, the Mohamed Haneef disgrace, the sellout of the Tasmanian wilderness, the near-inevitability of Nukular Power and interest rate rises, and the departure of both Sheeds and Pagan in one week– you might not have noticed that something fairly important is happening down here in Victoria. To all you un-Australians, that’s the bit down the bottom- no, not that bit hanging off the bottom, that’s Tasmania, we’ve given up on that- the bottom of the mainland. Not a Turtle has noticed:

The Victorian Parliament may vote on the decriminalisation of abortion as early as next month.

The decriminalisation of abortion. Read that again, just in case you missed it.

According to article 65 of the Crimes Act (1958) – yes folks, nineteen fifty eight:

65 Abortion
Whosoever being a woman with child with intent to procure her own miscarriage unlawfully administers to herself any poison or other noxious thing or unlawfully uses any instrument or other means, and whosoever with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman whether she is or is not with child unlawfully administers to her or causes to be taken by her any poison or other noxious thing, or unlawfully uses any instrument or other means with the like intent, shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and shall be liable to level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).

Abortions are currently performed according to the Menhennitt ruling, which states that abortion is lawful “…if necessary to protect the physical or mental health of the woman, provided that the danger involved in the abortion did not outweigh the danger which the abortion was designed to prevent.” Anyone performing or having an abortion is still committing a crime, they are merely excluded from prosecution by the ruling.

Labor MP Candy Broad’s proposed private member’s bill to remove abortion from the Crimes Act is unlikely to pass, according to Health Minister Bronwyn Pike because it “basically creates abortion on demand”. Ms Pike is also unnerved by the bill as it removes abortion from the Crimes Act but “doesn’t replace it with anything”. Ms Pike has mentioned that regulations surrounding abortion could be added to the Health Act, but goes on to say that “…I don’t believe this is an improvement and I don’t believe this bill will pass. Not in its current form.”

In other words, Pike and the other mostly male members of the Victorian Labor party think that if we leave it to women to make the decision whether or not to terminate their pregnancy, we’ll have GIRLS GONE WILD, (or as Bronwyn so primly put it, “open slather“). Because number one, women are stupid, and two, abortion “on demand” will be a mere nothing, so the prospect of a medical procedure under anaesthetic involving one’s abdominal organs being mucked around with every four months or so will be an attractive prospect to every young hussy thinking woman.

In other words, as Leslie Cannold explained last week (and the US bloggers before that) the basis for the proposed bureaucratic hurdles (cooling-off periods and so on) is the idea that women just can’t be trusted to make decisions. Paul Austin’s irritatingly patronising article in the AGE opinion page today just didn’t get it.

As things stand, with abortion falling under the Crimes Act in Victoria and the Menhennit ruling providing a provisional out, every doctor who performs terminations is at risk from a “pro-life” activist. If this Bill fails due to the fact that Bronwyn Pike and the Catholic Labor right agree that women are wicked sluts who have to be protected from their own fallen ways, these doctors will be even more under the gun, both because of the media attention and the encouragement it will give to the anti abortion lobby.

By the way, the address for sending letters is here.

But first, you must read Audrey Apple to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of Letters to the Age.

Update 27/7: Fark! Well, the next likely incumbent is John Brumby, who is pretty much on the same page as Bracks, I believe: they both want the Bill scrapped in its present form to “make sure access to abortion is carefully regulated“. Saving us from Girls Gone Wild!

Crossposted at Road to Surfdom