Video reporting and filming by TAVLEEN SINGH
Article by SHEETAL SINGH
Outrage over strict USA abortion laws that prevent rape and incest victims from terminating a pregnancy spilled onto the streets of Melbourne last night.
Hundreds of protesters gathered at the State Library in a show of solidarity for Alabama women, after their state's governor signed the law which permits abortion only if the fetus can not survive, or the mother's life is at risk.
Under the a law, doctors caught performing abortions for any other reason will face up to 99 years jail.
Rally organiser Trip Fontaine said protesters wanted to show support for the American women who will lose legislative control of their own bodies.
“I feel pain for my sisters and trans brothers who are forced to carry out miscarriages at home by binding their stomach so tight that they can’t breathe,” Ms Fontaine said.
“The law is so restrictive that it also restricts birth control pills because event that's abortion.”
Founder of the Facebook page ‘Mad F**king Witches’ Jennie Hill attended the protest and said every woman must have control over terminating their pregnancy, whether the act that led to it was consensual or not.
“I believe that non-consensual sex is disgusting, but I don't think women who were raped are more entitled to have abortions. There shouldn’t be any ‘good or ‘bad’ women based on their decision to have sex,” Ms Hill said.
Outraged by the aggressive Alabama laws, protesters also highlighted Australia's inconsistent legislation which is regulated by individual states and territories.
In New South Wales, a woman can only have an abortion if a doctor determines there is an economic, social or medical reason for the pregnancy not to proceed to term.
In Queensland, if the fetus is more than 16 weeks old, two doctors must agree to provide the mother with a requested termination.
Somewhat more liberal in its approach, the state of Victoria permits abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Ms Fontaine said legalising abortion was one step, but the medical procedure must also be accessible for all women.
“There are women in rural parts of this country dying because they don’t have access to a safe abortion surgery,” Ms Fontaine said.
Protester Christopher Johnson said women need to be trusted to make decisions about their own bodies.
“Abortion needs to be accessible because without access there is no choice," he said.
"Women from Tasmania have to fly to Melbourne or Sydney to get an abortion."
Rally speaker Shauna Stanley agreed a woman's social or economic status should not limit her access to an abortion.
“Abortion in Victoria is legal but expensive. Costs start from $470 and go up to $7,700,” Ms Stanley said.
"As a trade unionist I want talk about abortion as a class issue. One of the key barriers to abortion here in Victoria is cost," she said.
“I believe there shouldn’t be a class divide on healthcare. Abortion is healthcare and shouldn’t depend on the place one lives in, or how much they earn.”