A couple of weeks ago I sat in a room that was over-flowing with people who had got together to fight for abortion rights. The meeting had been spectacularly well organised. When I came back to campus the week before, there was chalking advertising the meeting, and talking about the importance of abortion rights, all over campus. It didn’t rain that week – so awesome, strong messages were there for everyone to see (you can still see a bit of the chalking, in the door to the Kirk building, just under the overbridge).
To listen to dozens of people, mostly women, mostly younger than me, explain why they thought abortion rights were important, and why they were prepared to fight for them was not something I had ever experienced, or expected to experience.
I learned about our abortion law alone, in the Alexander Turnbull Library manuscripts reading room, with no. I couldn’t work for more than three quarters of an hour at a time looking through some of those files; I’d get so angry and upset I’d need a break. I once kicked the stone that said: This Building Was Opened By Rob Muldoon. My foot hurt, and I didn’t feel any better.
I felt alone. Most people I knew didn’t even know what the law was. I didn’t think I could do anything
I was wrong. Of course I was wrong. New Zealand’s abortion laws are outrageous, and of course there was heaps of passion about this injustice. There were always people who were prepared to fight the fight – it was just we all felt isolated, and had fifty three million other things to do, so nothing changed.
It appears that the Chris Trotter and Tammy X “abortion is kind of icky and won’t somebody think of the labour party” arguments won and Steve Chadwick’s bill will not be put in the ballot at the moment. Obviously I'm disappointed and disgusted.
But after the meeting we had – I know it doesn’t matter. We can educate, agitate and organise, until we’re strong enough to overpower MPs near pathological aversion to talking about abortion.
Whether next year or next decade, we will change abortion laws. We’re going to have honest laws that do not have unnecessary toll-gates in the way of women seeking for abortion.
And when we do I will look back on Monday the 19th of July as the night that I thought: “We’re gonna win.”