Thursday, 17 May 2012

Good Idea - Bad Idea

Good Idea

Yesterday, the Southern DHB announced that it was going to start providing an abortion service in Invercargill.  Previously people from Southland who needed an abortion have had to travel to Christchurch (pre-earthquake) and Dunedin (since February 2011) to get them.* (Here's ALRANZ's supportive press release.)

One of the many things that is wrong with our current abortion law is that it makes centralised services necessary - which means women who don't live in the main centres have to expend extra money and time in order to get an abortion.  It's great (but not enough) that things have got a little better for Southland women.

Bad Idea

Yesterday, LifeChoice Victoria, LifeChoice Canterbury and Pro-Life Auckland launched a Right to Know campaign (there are not enough sarcastic quote marks in the world to properly communicate just imagine two sets for pretty much every word).  They distributed leaflets that lied about abortion in all the major lectures theatres at at least two (and probably three universities).**  You can read the full text on their website.  Campus Feminist Collective in Auckland have started planning their response

My favourite quote demonstrates the hideous double-speak of incrementalism: "Women should be trusted with all of the available facts, and then allowed the freedom and space to make a properly informed decision."  By 'facts' they mean 'inaccurate bullshit we like' and by 'freedom and space to make a properly informed decision' they mean 'make all women wait longer than they need to get an abortion through a cooling off period.'

The reason that this double-speak has any chance of working (and I hope it doesn't work - the person I was sitting next to thought the leaflets were prochoice - because they hadn't read the leaflet only looked at hte headings) is because the politics of abortion aren't particularly clear in this country.  Even people who are reasonably pro-choice can buy into a discourse which portrays abortion as the ethically murky thing that we shouldn't talk about, if that's the only discourse abortion they ever hear.  We need to be the ones that champion the ability of pregnant people to make their own decisions - so that everyone will see this for the patronising claptrap that it is.

* Talking of which does anyone know what the current situation is for people who need abortions from the West Coast?  They used to have to travel to Christchurch, but that clinic was damaged in the earthquake - do they now have to travel to Dunedin or Nelson?

** They're well-funded - these were glossy properly printed leaflets that were three to an 3 page - and they would have had thousands of them to do all those lecture theatres.


Anonymous said...

As far as ALRANZ knows, people from the West Coast are still going to Christchurch. Post-earthquake, abortions moved into Ward 29 Christchurch hospital from the standalone Lyndhurst Clinic. We're investigating further though, and I'll update later.

La Ranita

tamsinbg said...

I found a whole lot of these pamphlets right outside Student Health Service at Vic, on a stand with SHS's health advice pamphlets. I was furious but not quite confident enough to ask if SHS knew the pamphlets were there/condoned them. I ended up just collecting the lot of them and throwing them in the bin.

Lils said...

This group also distributed them at the University of Canterbury Library. Staff didn't know about the pamphlet drop as the group never asked for permission before littering the building with them.

I thought this was really rude, over and above the misinformation printed on them. It's one thing handing a pamphlet to individuals on the street, another invading students' study spaces like that.

A Nonny Moose said...

Kinda makes me wish my friends who used to work at Canterbury was still there, so she could go do her rampaging best on these assholes.

Captiver said...

Hey, they seem to be pro-choice now. After all how can a woman make a "free and fully-informed choice" if abortion is banned -- which was what we all thought they really wanted. It's all very well co-opting pro-choice, feminist language but if you do it too much you end up essentially saying you're pro-choice. Perhaps the best response to to congratulate Prolife NZ on seeing the light and adopting a pro-choice platform (even if some of their info is crap -- none of us is perfect).

Alex said...

OOOHHHH! I got one of the 'Right to Know' flyers in one of my lectures the other day, it was tremendously funny. My personal favourite bit was how it began with the words "Imagine your sister wanted to have a dangerous medical procedure."

The implication being of course that the people having abortions shouldn't be the ones being addressed, it should be those around potential abortion seekers, ie, men. Because after all, a good man tells the women in their life exactly what medical procedures they should and shouldn't have.

Superb own-goal by the anti-abortion lobby in my view!

Anonymous said...

Hi, just an update - we've had confirmation from the West Coast DHB that they are still sending people to Christchurch.

La Ranita
(can't comment with ALRANZ's WordPress account for some reason)

Rosie said...

Alex, that's somewhat absurd to assume that "those around potential abortion seekers" are just men. Can't women have sisters?

QoT said...

@Rosie: I think the rather obvious point is that if it's a [cis] woman reading the pamphlet, she can probably imagine *herself* in that position.

Alex said...

@Qot - Thank you, yes that was the point I was trying to make.