Australian women use hashtag 'Arrest Us' to campaign for abortion decriminalization
An Australian flag is held in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP / Rick Rycroft)
Women in Australia have banded together using the hashtag #ArrestUs to call on the government to decriminalize abortion in the New South Wales state, where it is still technically a crime.
The movement’s Facebook page cites a new decriminalization bill being introduced to Parliament this week as the catalyst that will allow “women in NSW [to] finally have the freedom to make our reproductive health choices without facing the challenges presented because abortion is criminalized.”
In a post, the movement explains how 80 women took out an advertisement in a New South Wales newspaper in the 1970s to declare themselves “criminals” for having abortions, in a campaign to decriminalize the practice – which is where the hashtag ‘Arrest Us’ originates.
“We are diverse women,” the post states. “Our abortion experiences are varied. We have had abortions decades ago and very recently. We have all had abortions under NSW laws which define abortion as a crime. We want to be the last. We say: Arrest us.”
Then, in a nod to the ‘70s movement, dozens of names and dates are listed of women who have had abortions in the state.
Currently, a woman and her doctor can face a decade in prison if convicted of an unlawful abortion, but case law in New South Wales has “established that abortion is lawful in the state if the doctor has an honest opinion that continuing the pregnancy would be seriously harmful to the health of the woman,” according to BuzzFeed News.
The New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard urged his colleagues to support the bill and “right a wrong,” in his speech in state parliament, but many conservative MPs, the Catholic church and anti-abortion activists have pushed back to try to derail the legislation.
New South Wales is the only Australian state that has not yet moved to decriminalize abortions.
Similarly, in New Zealand, a bill was introduced Monday and faces its first reading Thursday aiming to legalize abortion in the country.
Changes to abortion law were part of the platform Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern campaigned under in 2017, but significant delays haggling over the bill’s contents pushed it back.