Abortion decriminalised in Queensland after 50-year struggle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/11/2018 - 1:40pm in


sexism, sexism

Queensland has finally decriminalised abortion, after state parliament approved new laws on 17 October. It has taken 50 years of struggle and campaigning.

Abortion is now legal in Queensland up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. After that time, two doctors decide whether the procedure can go ahead. Doctors who are “conscientious objectors” can refuse to conduct abortions but must refer women to an appropriate alternative.

It took a major social upheaval in the 1960s and the rise of the Women’s Liberation Movement to create momentum for change.

By the 1970s some doctors were convinced to challenge the law, winning court rulings that allowed abortions in order to protect the well-being of the woman. Until then many women died accessing illegal backstreet abortions.

The struggle for abortion rights in Queensland has been particularly fierce. In 1980 Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen attempted to ban all abortions except where the mother’s life was in danger or in cases of rape, incest or deformity of the foetus. His Pregnancy Termination Control Bill was introduced with little warning about its contents.

Anti-abortionists in the Right to Life spent up big on 100 advertisements in buses, radio broadcasts featuring heartbeats of foetuses and a “Celebrate Life” march.

But a militant campaign of opposition saw the government’s supporters drop away.

On the evening of the Bill’s last reading on 20 May about 5000 pro-abortion activists met in King George Square, supported by unions including the Trades and Labour Council. They marched tentatively on the footpath at first, and then illegally took the streets to parliament.

On arrival, iron gates were locked to keep people out. The protesters weren’t deterred. Pushing the gates over, they marched into the grounds and around the rose garden.

On the eve of the final vote the government gave up and converted the Bill to a private member’s Bill. Nineteen government members including four ministers crossed the floor and killed it. It was an election year, but the lesson was that tightening up abortion laws anytime was not worth the risk of the anti-government feeling unleashed.

Then in 1985 Bjelke-Petersen ordered police raids on the abortion clinic at Greenslopes, operating since 1976, and 20,000 patient files were removed for investigation. In response to a public complaint, the doctors Bayliss and Cullen were tried. They were found not guilty of procuring an illegal abortion—the law was too vague to guarantee a conviction, in the context of strong pro-abortion sentiment.

Decriminalisation ends ongoing potential jail threats and fines against women and abortion providers. As recently as 2010 a couple in Cairns were tried and acquitted of procuring an abortion.

Law reform

Abortion is a simple gynaecological procedure which is used by one in three women during their lives to end unwanted pregnancies. It is estimated that 80,000-90,000 women in Australia terminate a pregnancy each year. Improvements in technology have made the procedure safer and medical abortions (such as using the RU486 pill) make early pregnancy abortion much simpler.

Opinion polls continue to show 80 per cent support for a woman’s right to choose. This is why abortion should be totally removed from Criminal Codes, as it is in the ACT where abortion is regulated under the Health Act.

Law reform in every state and territory, except NSW, has made abortion legal on request up to various stages of pregnancy. In NSW unlawful abortion remains a criminal offence, although established court rulings allow access.

However, there remain restrictions because of lack of services and funding, especially for women in regional areas who have to travel to access abortion. Tasmania’s only abortion clinic closed at the end of last year. And an ongoing stigma still surrounds the procedure.

Anti-abortion groups continue to protest outside clinics. The Queensland legislation prohibits such harassment within 150 metres of a clinic, as do similar laws in NSW, Victoria, the ACT and the Northern Territory. Anti-abortion campaigners are currently challenging these laws in the High Court, claiming they restrict “free speech”.

The unnecessary difficulties can only be explained by the systematic oppression of women. Capitalism benefits from women’s unpaid labour within the family, reproducing the next generation of workers. The efforts to restrict a woman’s control over her own body reflect the desire to promote sexist ideas and women’s role in bringing up children.

The progress on abortion laws is an important victory. But to fully win women’s liberation we need a socialist movement that can take on capitalism.

Growing participation in the workforce has permanently established women as capable of struggle as part of the working class. But women still do not have full control over their bodies. It’s a right still to be won

By Judy McVey

The post Abortion decriminalised in Queensland after 50-year struggle appeared first on Solidarity Online.

How Capitalism Has Screwed Women Over

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 04/11/2018 - 12:00am in

It’s been one year since the explosion of the Me Too movement that followed allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Since then, the #metoo hashtag has been used around 19 million times to expose and discuss workplace sexual harassment. Women are raising their voices. The struggle is multifaceted, but at its heart, women want economic and political equality with men. They also are increasingly questioning capitalism, the system that has allowed and maintained their subordination. To understand how women have been systematically denied so much of what capitalism has provided to their male peers, we need to go back to a pre-capitalist age.

Shaun Bailey: Not Only Islamophobic, but also Misogynist

On Wednesday, Mike put up a piece reporting and commenting on a story by Business Insider about the rather unpleasant attitude Shaun Bailey, the Tory candidate for mayor of London, has for girls from poor backgrounds. He has made a series of comments in an article he wrote for the Torygraph, at the Tory party conference in 2008 and in 2005, when he was a social worker, claiming that young women deliberately became pregnant to get a flat or benefits. He also said that poor people need rules to stop them from turning to crime, and that girls were more likely to start smoking than boys because they had the ‘smoker’s attitude’.

Labour’s Rosina Allin-Khan told Buzzfeed, the site that uncovered some of these comments, that it was appalling sexism and misogyny.

Mike in his article points out that Bailey’s campaign team tried to excuse him by saying they were the “blunt words” of someone “who hasn’t figured it all out” but wanted to make a contribution to society by offering his experiences, “however raw they might seem now”.

Mike advises his readers to go to the Business Insider and Buzzfeed articles, look at them, and decide for themselves. But he doubt their decisions will be favourable to Bailey. He recognizes that people’s attitudes change over time, and that we might hear from Bailey a statement disowning his comments. But Mike won’t be holding his breath.

This isn’t the first time Bailey’s shown an unpleasant, bigoted attitude. At the end of last month, Mike put up a piece reporting that Bailey had retweeted an image of Sadiq Khan, the present London mayor, as the Mad Mullah of Londonistan. The Tory party tried to excuse this by saying that he didn’t really look at the image before he retweeted it. Or something like that.

‘Londonistan’ is the name ‘Mad’ Melanie Phillips, a writer for the Heil, has given to Muslim London in her book of the same name, because she claims the capital’s Islamic community is full of Islamist terrorists. And Mike’s article also shows that people on Twitter, including Jeremy Corbyn, were also quick to connect Bailey’s sneer with Zac Goldsmith’s Islamophobic campaign against Sadiq Khan, in which he claimed that his rival was indeed a supporter of Islamist terrorism.

Now we see Bailey repeating the old Tory lie that young women just get pregnant in order to sponge off the state. It’s a lie that’s been repeated endlessly in the Tory press, particularly the Heil. Now I dare say that in the case of some women, who are poor and desperate, this might be the case. I can remember a female friend telling me years ago that if she was homeless, she would try and get pregnant to be rehoused. Incidentally, that young woman was a very hardworking and responsible citizen. It was an expression of the desperate measures she would take, if she was in that position.

I don’t know if the young women Bailey encountered deliberately did get pregnant to get housing and benefits, as he said. For all the ranting about benefit fraud and unmarried mothers in Tory rags like Geordie Grieg’s esteemed organ, the rates of schoolgirl pregnancy and people fraudulently claiming benefits are absolutely miniscule, a fraction of a percent. But thanks to the vile Tory press, a poll of the British public found that they thought 25 per cent of all benefit claims were fraudulent, and the country was drowning in waves of schoolgirl mothers.

And unmarried mothers were on Peter Lilly’s foul little list of the people he hated, which he paraded at a Tory conference back in the 1990s in a weird parody of the Mikado. They’re also a threat to ‘our stock’, according to Maggie’s mentor, Sir Keith Joseph, showing his own eugenicist, Social Darwinist attitude to poverty.

I also wonder if there isn’t a little bit of racism in their as well. Bailey didn’t mention what colour these girls were, but it reminded me very much of the fear Reagan and his supporters whipped up over in America about Black ‘welfare queens’. These are young girls in the ghettos, who supposedly get pregnant by any number of different men in order to claim benefits. A little while ago I came across an article – I think it was in Counterpunch, the American radical magazine and news site – which argued that the Republicans used Blacks and ethnic minorities to hate on other people of colour. They supported the argument with numerous examples of BAME Republicans attacking Muslims as an invasive culture, incompatible with American culture and values, and the Black community for its supposed criminality and contentment to rely on state support. In actual fact, American sociologists have found that while there are real problems of poverty in Black America, they’re the same kind that afflicts White society. The only reason they’re more acute is because Blacks in general are much poorer than Whites.

But perhaps I’m wrong about Bailey. Perhaps he isn’t racist towards other, poorer Blacks. He is, however, retailing the same story the Tories use to justify benefit cuts. And these cuts are pushing people into grinding poverty, and claiming lives.

Racist or not, Bailey, and the party that has adopted and supported him, is a disgrace. He’s a bigot who has no business being mayor of world city like London. Just as Tweezer and the Tories have no business being Prime Minister and the government.

On Female Rage

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 11/10/2018 - 6:00pm in

Who is allowed to be angry? Whose anger is believed?

Illustrated Letters to the Editor - October 2, 2018

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 02/10/2018 - 5:00pm in

Readers chime in about Brett Kavanaugh’s temper tantrum.

Keeping it One Hundred

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 28/09/2018 - 5:30pm in

With Dr. Ford’s certainty, the GOP’s strategy and women’s reaction, it’s all about the percentage.

Pin Drop

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 28/09/2018 - 5:30pm in

Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Brett Kavanaugh has taken the air out of the GOP’s nominee.

Just Follow These Easy Steps

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 25/09/2018 - 5:00pm in

Make sure to follow this exact flowchart, or it doesn’t count.

Jimmy Dore and Secular Talk Tear Apart anti-Corbyn Smears about Bankers

Mike on Pollard’s Smears

On Monday, Mike put up a piece attacking the latest anti-Semitism smear against Jeremy Corbyn by the hard-right editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard. Corbyn had made a video describing how the banks were propping up the Tory government, because they protected and supported them at the expense of ordinary working people. Ten years ago the banks caused the massive crash, which led to the Tories pushing their austerity programme, which is cutting services and pushing ordinary folks into poverty. But while millions of people, including nurses and other vital workers and employees are finding it difficult to make ends meet, the chief of Morgan Stanley last year gave himself a 21.5 million pound bonus, and the banks together have given themselves 15 billion pounds in bonuses. Corbyn concluded his piece by saying that when these people called Labour a danger and a threat, they were right: Labour is a threat to a rigged system. The party now has well over half a million members, and will work for the many, not the few, and Socialist Voice. They pointed out that it was Pollard, rather than Corbyn, who was the anti-Semite. Corbyn said nothing about bankers being Jewish. Pollard did. Therefore, it’s Pollard who believes the anti-Semitic lie that all bankers are Jewish.

Pollard and a number of other gullible bigots immediately blew their tops and decided that when Corbyn talked about ‘bankers’, he was really using dogwhistles to express his hatred of the Jews.

Pollard’s comment was immediately ripped apart on Twitter by David Rosenberg, Another Angry Voice, Kerry-Ann Mendoza, Chelley Ryan, Curious Chak, Martin Frowd, Revolution Breeze, and The MANY versus the Few.

After being torn to shreds, Pollard issued a non-apology. He sort-of admitted that his comments may have been way off beam, but that was what happened when anti-Semitism was allowed to flourish: you saw everything through its prism.

Mike pointed out that this changed nothing, that Pollard still held anti-Semitic views in that he considered bankers to be synonymous with Jews, and that he had claimed that Corbyn was an anti-Semite, even though he stated that he had no evidence to support it.

So the left-wing twitterati returned to the job of tearing bloody chunks out of him, metaphorically speaking. Vote Labour to save the NHS, Audrey, Kerry-Ann Mendoza, and Hajo Meyer’s Violin. They pointed out that Pollard hadn’t apologized and was still showing his own anti-Semitic prejudices. Another Angry Voice tweeted a speech by Marie van de Zyle at a ‘Say No to Anti-Semitism’ event in Manchester, which was a pack of lies from one end to the other. Kerry-Ann Mendoza also tweeted about how she had been accused of anti-Semitism at an event. She described how IDF soldiers kidnap and torture Palestinian children. So she was accused of using the anti-Semitic trope that Jews eat babies. Sara tweeted that she wished to send a message of solidarity to Corbyn, and Tom London said that the schism between the two sides of the Jewish community could be mended if they were prepared to meet in good faith.

Mike concluded his article by stating it was worth a try.

Secular Talk and The Jimmy Dore Show

The accusations have crossed the Atlantic. They were repeated in the American Jewish newspapers, the Forward. And the American progressive news shows Secular Talk and the Jimmy Dore Show weighed in to rip Pollard and the other fanatics claiming Corbyn was an anti-Semite apart.

Both Secular Talk, fronted by Kyle Kulinski, and Jimmy Dore and his guests, Ron Placone and Steffi Zamorano, play Corbyn’s speech. Kulinski hows some of the twitter comments from ordinary Jews smearing Corbyn as an anti-Semite. He states that this is what happens to Progressives. Like they tried smearing Bernie Sanders as a sexist and racist, but they couldn’t smear him as an anti-Semite, because he was Jewish. But this didn’t apply in Corbyn’s case. He points out that they’re doing it to the BDS movement. And they’re only using the anti-Semitism smear because they have no real arguments against what he says.

Jimmy Dore and his friends say the same thing, though they take square aim at Stephen Pollard. One of the tweets they show asks how it is that the Jewish Chronicle in London and the Forward in New York say exactly the same thing, on the same day. It’s a good question. The answer is probably that both newspapers are running the same stories because they’re collaborating with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which has been exposed as organizing the campaign of anti-Semitic smearing against pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist activists. Dore makes the same point as Kulinski, that these tweets don’t show that Corbyn is an anti-Semite because he never mentioned the Jews. All he mentioned was Morgan Stanley. Which doesn’t have a Jewish name. But it does show how Pollard and the other tweeters do believe the anti-Semitic lie that all bankers are Jewish.

Dore also makes the point that this attempts to stop any criticism of the banks, or income inequality or indeed any left-wing issues, because if you do so, you’re an anti-Semite. It’s crying wolf.

And worse, it reduces the value of real accusations of anti-Semitism. Because if you accuse Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism, who stands up for working people, then obviously anti-Semitism can’t be a bad thing. Just like the attacks on Bernie Sanders undermine real accusations of sexism, because if he’s sexist and works for ordinary people, then similarly sexism can’t be all bad.

Here are the videos.

The Jimmy Dore Show.

Secular Talk

I am not at all surprised that they tried attacking Corbyn on the grounds that talking about bankers must be left-wing code for Jews. I’ve seen it done before on Kathy Shaidle’s extreme right-wing blog, Five Feet of Fury. Shaidle’s from the other side of the Atlantic, but her blog is aimed at Conservatives in America, Canada and Britain. She used the accusation to attack American and Canadian critics of the banksters, who cause the crash. I suppose it was only a matter of time before Conservatives and the Israel lobby over here used the same smear.

The Dark History of Hysteria

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/09/2018 - 5:00pm in

Since the beginning of medical science, one diagnosis has prevailed as the main explanation for all female symptoms. It even persists to today.