I attended my second protest, this time on the abortion debate here in Victoria. As I understand it, an abortion here is only granted if it has a negative impact on the mother’s mental and/or physical health, and requires approval from 2 doctors. The bill being presented to Parliament on Monday is merely to codify the legality of the procedure to 24 weeks. Unfortunately this is a compromise (as presented, a state committee on abortion gave the government 3 options; A) require a doctor’s approval, B) only requires a woman’s consent until 24 weeks; after 24 weeks, need approval from 2 doctors, or C) decriminalize abortion completely and allow it throughout a pregnancy. Option A and B would penalize doctors for performing abortions that do not satisfy the risk quotient; Option C penalizes those who are unqualified or done without consent. The pansies went for the middle option). (Don’t quote me on this, I don’t learn about abortion until the last week of class)
Today’s protest, in my best Hans Blix impression, was very different from the UMSS organized protest of Youth Against World Youth Day. A lot more people, and both sides were represented. Unfortunately, the pro-life side outnumbered the pro-choice side. I overheard one of the pro-lifers counting pro-choicers and I think he said there was only a hundred or so pro-choicers (He seemed to think sheer numbers meant his side was winning, I resisted the temptation to kick him). There were at least 800 pro-lifers but many were parents who had brought their children (I’m all for teaching civil discourse but using your children as props is a stupid idea). Also, the pro-lifers had more signs and were incredibly well-organized.
Despite this difference in numbers, the police presence was to keep the pro-choicers in line. Quite literally, the pro-choicers had formed a line (only about 1-2 people deep) and the cops formed a line in front of them. In front of the pro-lifers? Only one or two cops, and they were definitely not lined up. I’m not being anti-police here, I understand that they’re there for a reason but to unfairly categorize the pro-choicers as the trouble-makers and force them to move back when the pro-lifers kept moving forward is ludicrous. And yes, the majority of pro-choice protesters were of socialist denomination, and a few attempted to charge the police so they could yell “police brutality”.
The thing that struck me most on the pro-life side was the amount of children carrying signs, such as the “I was a foetus” banner, or the “No Children = No Future” placard held by a young boy, maybe 6 or 7 yrs old. That’s one way to build ignorance at such a young age. I tried infiltrating the pro-life crowd but I’m not exactly stealth. They had someone speaking in the middle of the crowd but I couldn’t see who it was. So I mostly just took photos of their idiotic signs.
I wasn’t all too pleased with the socialists either, one kept yelling “you should have been aborted” at pro-life supporter. That proves absolutely nothing. It is not an argument of merit, it is a weak, tepid insult at best.
I am firmly on the side of the pro-choicers. It is about a woman’s right to choose, the freedom to keep her child or not. If she feels that she cannot provide her child with the best possible life, than it is her right to give up the child either through abortion or adoption. It is not a child until it is born. It is not life at conception; 25% of all conceptuses do not make it to term, many blastocysts do not even make it to implantation. If you were to restrict access to abortion, many women would turn to “back-alley” abortions. Unsafe abortion is the leading cause of maternal mortality, causing approximately 80 000 deaths per year (NB: the deaths are regional, 700x more likely to occur in an African nation than a developed country) Berer, M. Making Abortions Safe: A matter of good public policy and practice. Bulletin of the World Health Organisation 2000; 78 (5): 580-591.
So then, if I only went to observe, couldn’t I have done the same thing by watching the news? Decisions are made by those who show up (Favourite fictional American President, The West Wing). Be the change you want to see in the world (Gandhi). Maybe next time, I’ll even do a chant.
*Please do not try to argue with me, my intention was not to offend you, it was to state what I have observed. I’ve made my mind up and anything you say is unlikely to change that, just as anything I say to you will not change your mind.
PS. Still playing tourist. My fellow Canadian Diana and I went to a couple of the Melbourne Day events to celebrate the founding of Melbourne by a guy who was not Batman (I keep forgetting the name but apparently, so do most Melburnians). First stop was a replica of the Enterprize (not a spelling mistake), the ship that first landed here in 1835, in Docklands. Next up was the Eureka Tower, 88 stories up. There is a moving floor called the Cube, that moves out into the open space and the floor changes from opaque to clear so you can see people running around like ants below. However, it’s $12 and a long line-up so Diana and I skipped it (plus fear of heights).