Today at the courthouse in Cairns there will be three very different groups of people, two vying for media attention, one hoping nobody will notice them. All of these groups believe they are justified in their stance and none will move until the trial is over.
The issue? Abortion.
The first group will be the accused and her family. She used a drug that her boyfriend imported for her and gave herself an abortion. She did not suffer any ill effects but was charged under Queensland law as here, in this state, procuring an abortion is illegal. She is the woman that has garnered attention world-wide as this pre-historic law (I should just say antiquated but it doesn't seem strong enough) is put to the test.
The second group will be the members and other interested persons representing Pro Choice. An organisation committed to raising awareness of the issue and getting the Queensland Government to remove the law from the criminal code. These people are holding a vigil at the courthouse until this trial is over. They believe very strongly that abortion should be a woman's right to choose.
Lastly, we will have a dedicated group of people representing Right to Life. These are just as passionate but for very different reasons. They are passionate about not just leaving the law as it stands, but ensuring no woman can procure an abortion anywhere in the world. They stand strongly by their conviction that abortion is killing an unborn child.
Amongst all of this chaos will be the media that will stand by just waiting for one of the Pro Choice supporters to attack a Right to Life representative, or vice versa. Their interest is not really in the trial, although I am sure it will be reported vigilantly, but in the fact that this issue is a polarising one and has always been shrouded in controversy.
I hope that through all of this, nobody forgets that there is a young lady at the centre of the whole proceeding who is facing charges, therefore possible jail time, or a very large fine. She is the one who is really making a stand, she did so many months ago when she asked her boyfriend for help. He has stood beside her in support all of this time and should be recognised for that.
Here is a prime example of why this law should be removed from our criminal code. Forget for a moment what you personally think of abortion. Forget about putting yourself in her position, or his, and think instead of what THEY did. Now imagine that the law was even stronger, as the Right to Life organisation would prefer. Do you imagine for even a moment that this couple would NOT have made this same decision anyway? They more than likely would have. As many couples and woman, always have.
Abortion is not a procedure that has only existed as long as the law has allowed it. It was illegal for many decades prior to that. In the days of truly illegal abortion, many women died, and countless others were injured permanently, procuring illegal abortions. Regressing the law will only take us back to that time in our past and women the world over deserve better than that.
Legalising it properly does not mean that the whole country agrees it is a morally acceptable choice, only that we all believe that women should be protected and as safe as we can possibly make them. That is the very least of what we should do and I still can't believe that our Government, here in the Smart State, is backing away from making this decision. This is not a decision about whether or not women should have the right to make this choice.....whatever is decided, women will continue to choose abortion anyway. This is about removing the potentially harmful side-effects of that choice.
Over the next few days or weeks, as this trial continues, please write a letter of support for this couple and send it to your local MP, e-mail them or give them a call. Let them know that we all want women to be safe and we all want women protected by the law. I have.