One uterus, one vote.

Women.  Who’d be one?

The rate at which we are abused, beaten and killed has increased by more than 50% in the last seven years in NSW. 

We are the owner-operators of the uterus.  With that, you would think came choice and power. However, even in the 21st century, in large parts of Australia, we still do not have a legal right to determine the contents of our uterus, if we choose to make it gloriously empty.

The anti-choice zealots get away with mauling our morals, spirituality and choices.

The health minister can have a conflict of interest- with impunity.

Then there’s RU486.  Banned in 1996 because of the staunch Catholic and independent MP Brian Harradine from Tasmania, whose vote was crucial to the coalition government as it did not have a majority in the upper house. That was in 1996, when women’s health choices were far less important than selling off Telstra. Almost ten years later- in what condition are women’s reproductive rights?

RU486 was then and is now a proven abortifacient which would be beneficial if added to the repertoire of choice a woman and her health professional could access.

A conscience vote on the status of RU486 is hinted at for Tuesday, 29th  November.  Since when does women’s health need a conscience filter? Is it because everyone feels that they have a right to comment on the coming and goings of the uterus?  Women (and their uteri) are 51% of the population and can determine their reproductive rights. Men comprise 49% of the population and can support a woman’s right to choice and self-determination.

Leslie Cannold puts the whole issue very succinctly:

“This is a vote about the integrity of Australia’s framework for ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of the medicines we take. It is a vote about whether or not the Therapeutic Goods Administration or the Health Minister should make critical decisions about which drugs are made available to patients, and in what circumstances.”

Tuesday should be interesting.

Most of those voting don’t have a uterus – and even fewer have a conscience. 

voting machine 

Image from here

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15 Responses to “One uterus, one vote.”

  1. David Collett Says:

    I’m a newbie to the idea. I only began to understand thanks to you and your coathangers.

    I understand the crappiness of having others legislate my body based on religious idealogy.

    But I read this. Did you see this – it’s a different perspective on RU486:

    Why this feminist is anti-RU486. I want to know your thoughts on it.

  2. Suki Says:

    Thanks for the link David.

    Renate Klein supports her call for the ban on RU486 to remain by citing the drug’s questionable efficacy and safety.

    Then there are critiques.

    In 1994 (before the ban) clinical trials were done in Sydney by Professor Ian Fraser. 55 women had a 100% success rate.

    RU486 use, surgical abortion and pregnancy to birth all carry risk.

    My desire is simple – choice. The widest possible choice of interventions available with as much scientific data that a Gynaecologist could possibly consume, to inform their work, to offer the best possible outcome to a patients’ specific needs. This leaves women with a broad repertoire of choice, informed consent and the best chance for a successful, safe outcome.

  3. weezil Says:

    David, Renate Klein is indeed a well respected feminist academic. She’s on the lookout for anything which she perceives as a threat to women without sufficient warning.

    However, you must consider that not only is surgical abortion risky, so is pregnancy in general. The risk of spontaneous miscarriage, with attendant complications such as heavy bleeding and incomplete ejection of the foetus, is around 16%. RU486 was shown to have a risk of complications in just 5% of cases in clinical trials, with complications similar to those of spontaneous miscarriage.

    Klein’s point is that RU486 is certainly not without risk, but neither is pregnancy. Klein also does not want people to think that RU486 can replace surgical abortion in all cases. There are some women who, for various reasons, will not be able to use RU486, thus necessitating the continued existence of termination clinics as well as maintenance and improvement of surgeons’ skills in performing surgical abortions.

    In 95% of cases, however, RU486 eliminates many of the risks involved with surgical termination, particularly those associated with anaesthesia and surgery- notably ‘golden staph’ infection.

  4. David Collett Says:

    Thankyou both. I understand more now.

    Suki: The ideal of choice, support, options, alternatives is one I can whole heartedly embrace.

    I see these as Ideals lost or bastardised in a corporate and commercialised world. I don’t want a choice of toothpaste. I want a doctor to help me make decisions about my future.

    Weez: Your post reminds me that there is nothing without risk. There are no silver bullets. There are only choices, options and alternatives. Again, for it, it supports the idea of choice and support.

    Thanks again.

  5. weezil Says:

    No worries, David.

    Suki & I are in the canoe of rational, evidence based solutions. Pregnancy termination is a medical problem for women, not a moral issue resolvable by priests nor a rights issue which should be addressed with legislation.

    Until elbows and cancer cells have individual civil rights, politicians and judges should keep their noses out from between Australian women’s legs.

    The Right Reverend Minister Abbott and several other gubmint defenders of the patriarchal right to manage their women and other chattels as they see fit, fail to realise that their law affects all people in our borders, while not all subscribe to their faerie-tale based value structures. While Australia has a very different historical connection of religion to government which may preclude the full separation of church and state, as long as there are non-Anglicans and non-Catholics residing in Australia, no fair law should reflect a preference for any religion.

    Our next goal is to remove laws from the books which to this day criminalise abortion in many Australian states. There should never be a possibility of a woman or her physician being penalised for her exercise of her right to choose how to operate her body- and her life. Indeed, Suki and I have said many times around here that abortion is legal in Australia. It’s in fact only the lack of motivation of the government to prosecute that we had that perception.

    It’s time to make choice fully legal in Australia.

  6. Ed Says:

    Suki summed it up: RU486 use, surgical abortion and pregnancy to birth all carry risk. Chemotherapy carries risks. So does routine surgery to remove an ingrown toenail. Let’s be consistent and ban ’em all — or allow patients and their doctors to consider and accept the risk.

  7. Helen Says:

    RU486 has to be prescribed by a GP, who needs to follow up in a few days and be able to fix any uterine contents that might be left behind. The Mad Monk’s “point” (disingenuous to a fault) is that we’ll all just buy RU486 at the supermarket and then wander off home to our bush shacks to die of puerpural fever.

    However, this is not what GPs who support the drug are advocating.

    Note, if the pregnancy turns out to be ectopic you are in deep shit unless you have followup, but this will happen whether or not RU486 is legalised! and it will not care whether you live in a remote area.

  8. weezil Says:

    Ed, thanks for your note.

    What we are up against is not any sort of valid scientific objection that RU486 is patently unsafe or unsuitable for purpose. We are confronting a group of people who want to save us from ourselves. This is authoritarian and paternalistic. This approach presumes that women are not smart enough to gather all the data and make appropriate decisions for their circumstances.

    Paternalism may have a place, perhaps when one is instructing their own very young children, who may yet not have enough information or processing ability to make good decisions. Paternalism has no place in government or laws pertaining to adults.

  9. weezil Says:

    Helen, count on Father Tony for the specious objection. Fear, uncertainty and doubt are his stocks in trade. Such is the nature of the belief based.

  10. David Collett Says:


    Did you see this? I was also amazed to learn of the history of why the RU-486 is being decided by politicians – stupid Brian H.

    —- has started a campaign to get RU-486 out of the hands of the politicians and back under the management of the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

    It can be found here.

  11. weezil Says:

    Hi David,

    Yes, Suki & I have seen this.

  12. Suki Says:

    It is unthinkable to me, that as late as 1996, we as a country were still reducing access to one of the options for dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.
    I’m still mourning that (and the loss of Paul Keating).

    I am getting to the Sydney GetUp meeting tonight (I’ll post something after).
    Me – I want to shake the hands of David, Jeremy and the GetUp team and thank them for creating a voice.

  13. David Collett Says:

    As a big picture geek, I love it when technology is used well.

    Get up is an example of that – producing a website to enact change in Australia. They’ve harneshed the power of the web – very powerfully and also for the people (rather than commerical interests).

    The other example of harneshing the power of technology I loved was the country-wide TV link up the union movement did for the IR rally earlier this month. There was some great, great thinking which went into that.

    Technology used well I think.

  14. Suki Says:

    Absolutely. On the 15th of November watching the big screen filled to each edge with Greg Combet or Bob Brown or John Clarke and Bryan Dawe was fabulous.

    I love mp3 downloads for my iriver
    This is my newest of new media of choice.

  15. GrodsCorp » Blog Archive » Just when we thought we’d heard the last ravings of Harradine… Says:

    […] UPDATE (28 Nov, 3:20pm): Suki and co. put together some excellent arguments over at her website.   […]

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