family first to introduce a foetal homicide bill in south australia
Another potential blow for women’s rights was announced last week with Family First MP Robert Brokenshire set to introduce a bill on foetal homicide to the South Australia Parliament, with hopes of making the legislation national. Brokenshire wishes to see those who cause the death of a foetus through assault or negligent driving charged with murder.
And I can’t help but think the secret hope (or not so secret, as we are talking about Family First) to use the legislation to change abortion laws.
Now I do in a way understand the other side of the argument. I understand that it must be hard for people who lose a pregnant family member and, in consequence, the foetus; just as it must be hard for a pregnant woman to lose a foetus due to another’s harmful actions, and not have the full impact recognised under current laws.
And it is a difficult subject; one that is tricky to write about because it is such a grey area. When I was discussing the issue with my family and friends, they were divided. They were all for the legislation in regard to late stage pregnancy, but are still pro-choice. And this is where it gets difficult. Because how can you classify a foetus as a person with its own individual rights in one circumstance, but not in another? And even beginning to discuss if or when a foetus does become a person in utero brings up a subject that has been much debated both within the medical community and without, with no clear cut answer so far. I certainly don’t feel qualified to answer this question. But I’m sure as hell not going to let a Family First MP or any other anti-abortion extremist decide for me either.
And so I personally cannot agree with this legislation. To change the national legislation, or even that in Western Australia (I’m sure, like me, you have completely given up on Queensland…), would be to take a huge step backwards for women’s rights. Granted, the bill is being worded to only include foetal deaths due to assaults, domestic violence and negligent driving. But to even get this bill through would be a very slippery slope. Because once you start classifying a foetus as a “person” in one set of circumstances, it won’t take long until it is applied to all circumstances.
Family First have never hidden their narrow-minded views. They care strongly about passing anti-abortion laws, and have been desperately trying to do so for years. And all anti-abortion laws do is discriminate against women.
Because whether to proceed with a pregnancy or not should be a woman’s choice. To force a woman to continue with a pregnancy that she doesn’t want, and have a child that she doesn’t want, is cruel and unjust. Because no one knows what circumstances the woman is in. Pro-choice is just that: pro-choice. People who are pro-choice don’t go around thinking, ‘I’m gonna get me an abortion one of these days’. No one thinks that they are going to end up having to make the difficult decision to do so. But life isn’t black and white — people find themselves in circumstances that they never expected and find themselves making choices that they never dreamed they would have to. Pro-choice simply means giving these women the choice and allowing them to make it without fear of judgement or harm.
Do anti-abortion advocates really not understand the emotional impact it could have, carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term? Do they really believe that the life of a potential person is more important than that of the mothers? Do they really think that someone should be forced to carry the child against their will for nine months, no matter what circumstances they’re in, like nothing more than a portable incubator?
I for one am terrified that this legislation will pass. Women are already living in a culture that fosters rape; one in which they are not paid equal to men, and are the victims of domestic violence in devastatingly high numbers and now, their reproductive choices may be taken away too. Sure, this legislation might give closure to a few mothers who will have lost their unborn children in heart-breaking circumstances, but it will harm many more women who will find their reproductive choices hindered, or even completely gone.