SYDNEY — Over 1,000 supporters of women’s right to choose abortion marched through the central city here June 9 amid a sea of homemade signs. They chanted, “my body, my choice” and “our bodies, our rights.”
The action was initiated by high school student Bella Ziade both in solidarity with protests in the U.S. against several states there passing harsh new restrictions on access to abortion and to demand that women’s right to abortion be legalized here in the state of New South Wales. “We’re demanding to be treated as human beings with fundamental human rights,” Ziade told demonstrators.
Abortion is only lawful in New South Wales if a doctor determines that continuing a pregnancy would be harmful to the woman. Any other abortion is illegal under the Crimes Act, and both the woman and the person administering the procedure are liable for up to 10 years in prison. While abortion is not listed as a crime in other Australian states, there are time limits and other restrictions on access that make it difficult to have the procedure.
“At our school we’re told about contraception but not about abortion,” Hallie Stubbs told the Militant. She introduced two fellow students, Lucy Bradnum and Alex Ley, who came with her to the protest. “There are all sorts of situations that women might face when they get pregnant and they shouldn’t be forced to give birth. We’re outraged by what’s happening in the U.S.”
“Women used to die from illegal abortions, by using coat hangers and other unsafe methods,” Ley added. “We want to make it completely legal here.”