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Abortion debate the silver bullet Labour needs -not!

Written By: - Date published: 8:01 am, July 20th, 2010 - 81 comments
Categories: abortion, labour, Social issues - Tags:

I was talking to an old friend last night.  She’s been a Labour voter/supporter/activist nearly all her adult life.  She lives in Rotorua.  She said she might have to vote Green next year because she doesn’t think she’ll be able to support Steve Chadwick and her proposed new law to legalise abortion on request for women up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

Both a recent Herald article and Chris Trotter’s blog on Steve Chadwick’s bill put the number of abortions in New Zealand in 2007 at18,382.  So I want to know who exactly does Steve Chadwick think is missing out?

Now that I’ve waded into the murky territory of abortion and being a real life woman,  I feel I am entitled to a view on the 24 weeks aspect of the bill, as well as the politics behind it.  A fetus at 24 weeks is one week older than what the medical world generally deems “viable”, i.e. capable of  sustaining life outside the womb.

It’s my understanding that abortions in NZ are most often performed on women up to 12 week’s pregnant.

From what  I’ve seen having an abortion is awful  and most women think long and hard before deciding to go ahead with one.  For many, it’s one of the worst days of their lives.

But we  live with it, or let me put this in the personal – I  live with it – because there is no chance a 12 week old fetus could survive  outside the uterus.  But a 24 week fetus could.  Their eyes are starting to open, they can hear and respond to sounds – including their mothers’ voice. Apparently their nerve endings aren’t developed enough to feel pain before 24 weeks and yet they could survive an very early birth.

So my problem with Steve Chadwick’s proposal is twofold:

1) I think this is stupid, stupid politics;  starting a debate about which there is no win nor, as far as I can tell from conversations I’ve had with women in the past decade a widespread grassroots  movement to liberalise our abortion policy.  I’m betting that Labour’s focus groups didn’t say hey! here’s our chance to get Labour’s agenda in the news – let’s get the country talking about abortion!.

2) I’m sorry but an abortion at 24 weeks (in the US they’re called Partial Birth Abortions for literal rather than emotional reasons) feels wrong.

Dead wrong.

81 comments on “Abortion debate the silver bullet Labour needs -not!”

  1. joe bloggs 1

    just another example of how out of step with the electorate Labour is becoming.

    Chris Trotter hit the nail on the head when he described the smug superiority of the managerial-professional New Leftists that are the present Labour Party stalwarts, and Steve Chadwick’s proposal is just another example of the party’s distaste for the values and beliefs of its own supporters.

    Abortions at 24 weeks? Auckland’s neo-natal intensive care unit saves premature babies born at 24 weeks FFS

    yet Chadwick would have those babies chopped up and scraped out in the next operating theatre – for shame

    • This is not a Labour Party measure. It is a proposed Private Member’s bill. Views within Caucus are as mixed as they are in the general population.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.2

      Trotter views ?
      You mean his recycled talking points from the days when he went to Acts friday night soirees where he told anybody who was listening what was wrong with labour.

      So labour should play smile and wave too, and only run with ‘cycleway’ type issues. Oh dear that wont keep Trotter happy either! What to do!

      • prism 1.2.1

        Labour has been like Deadmanwalking when it comes to moving important matters along. It needs to look at showing its vision and commitment to more than just one item on the progressive agenda. Important, but not vital when prioritised.

        captcha – devoted (don’t you love this dictionary)

  2. Sophia 2

    I would really encourage you the read this post by Maia on this issue. I think she sums up really well why a 24 week limit is important.


    The Handmirror.blogspot.com has also got a range of posts on this issue which have dealt with some of the issues that you’ve raised.

    • dave 2.1

      she also notes that she doesn’t support the 24 week limit – she’d support 25+ week’s limit. Perhaps, Sophia, you can explain why a 25+ week limit is better if you “really encourage” her views. She also implies that she could support this bill – a bill she has never seen.

  3. Mike 3

    I thought the bill was dead anyway?

  4. Sophia 4

    My post wasn’t supposed to be patronising – and if it came across that way, then I apologise.

    The reason why I put those links there is because those bloggers have already written extensively about some of the questions posed in this post. To fully repeat these arguments in the comment section would take up time and space. People can easily pop over to other blogs and read the discussions for themselves.

    And Dave – not to be a total pedant – but I encouraged people to read her post, not to take her views. Subtle but important difference.

  5. “feels wrong” is not an argument. It amounts to say, “I feel yucky, and the law should back me up.” You need to do better than that if you want to treat women as children who are incapable of making moral decisions for themselves. Do pop on over to The Hand Mirror and take a look at some of the arguments that we’ve worked on over there, because we address many of those issues.

    Actually, why don’t you just go over to Bowally Rd, and team up with Chris Trotter. he’s all for sacrificing the rights of anyone who doesn’t look like a 1950s white male too.

  6. Here’s an excellent round-up of a number of posts on abortion that Julie put together at The Hand Mirror.

    Pro-choice Blogging Round-up the Second

  7. Julie 7

    Thanks to those who have already linked to THM stuff on this. Perhaps Tammy might want to read the post and ensuing comment thread on the blog she actually writes for too?

    Pro-choice responses to Chadwick’s Abortion Bill

    It covers a lot of the ground, particularly in comments.

    Not sure I have the energy this week to get into another stoush of that magnitude. Couple of quick points (several of which have already been raised above):
    1. It’s not a Labour Bill it’s the possibility of a Private Member’s Bill. It won’t have gone through Labour focus groups or anything like that. And if it makes it to the voting stages it will be a conscience vote I imagine, for all MPs.
    2. Green MPs are more pro-choice than Labour MPs.
    3. On the 24 week issue. If you trust a woman to make the choice at 12 weeks, why don’t you trust her at 24?
    4. Why should women’s rights have to wait until a politically convenient time? Can you perhaps give me an idea when that might be then? 10 years, 20? It’s been 30 since the “compromise” (which was actually a victory for the anti-abortionists) was passed.
    5. Our abortion laws are a mess, that’s one of the few things both sides seem to agree on. If a Labour MP put up a members’ bill on this when Labour is in Govt then it will get labelled as a Labour Govt bill. (and the same for National MPs). It needs to come from one of the major party MPs, to give it a hope, and strategically they need to raise it while in opposition. Seems to me Steve Chadwick is on the ball with the timing. Although she hasn’t got it in the ballot yet, and if she doesn’t hurry up Labour might be back in Govt before it gets drawn 😉

    • loota 7.1

      3. On the 24 week issue. If you trust a woman to make the choice at 12 weeks, why don’t you trust her at 24?

      Note that a woman at 24 weeks will also have made a choice at 12 weeks.

      And our abortion laws being a mess fully reflect the not always rational can of worms being dealt with at the time that they were written.

      • Julie 7.1.1

        Not necessarily. I know women who did not know they were pregnant until a long way down the track, even as late as 20 or 24 weeks.

        Besides which, circumstances can change. Relationships can break up, health issues can arise, jobs can be lost, other children can develop illness.

        • loota

          Julie, what if a relationship break up happens around week 25 or 26 instead of around week 22 or 23? Same with losing a job or becoming aware of a pregancy. If a serious illness develops, a medical doctor would recognise that, right?

          I just can’t see any clear cut rationale here is what I guess I’m saying, other than the principle that a woman should have the right to terminate their pregnancy with the minimum of questions asked, and whenever she chooses to do so.

          • Julie

            But Loota you were arguing that a woman had already made a choice at 12 weeks and that’s what I was refuting. If you want to make an argument to extend beyond 24 weeks then you’ll find we are in agreement.

  8. A Nonny Moose 8

    I’ve been saying this until I’m blue in the face, but here we go again:

    Late term abortions are important, because they are in place for non-viable fetuses, and the health of the mother – The fetus and/or mother has an illness or complication that will kill one or both.

    Anyone who argues that late term abortions are only there for women to abort “at the last minute”, “because they’re silly” or “lazy” are doing a great disservice to the narrative.

    Please take some time to understand what conditions or illnesses a woman or fetus may suffer from so that late term abortions are needed. A dead mother, baby, or both is no use to a society standing on moral ideology.

    • comedy 8.1

      From what I understand late term abortions (>20 weeks) are permissible in NZ where there is a danger to the mother’s life, but they have to be carried out in a licensed institution.

      • A Nonny Moose 8.1.1

        Read Maia’s piece, especially the story about the pregnant woman with a heart condition refused an abortion in her 21st week, and told to play Russian Roulette with her pregnancy.

        So no, they are not. And this is what the 24 week limit is being proposed to redress.

        • comedy

          Umm Yes they are – as per the Health and Disability Commissioners findings …….

          “In his advice, cardiologist Dr Ian Crozier said a legal termination was an option. He raised concerns about the 15-week delay in the first cardiac review, given ministry guidelines were a week’s wait for pregnant women with heart disease.”

          Although this doesn’t excuse the fact that the Drs fucked up badly in this instance.

          edit Ari


          187a part 3

          “For the purposes of sections 183 and 186 of this Act, any act specified in either of those sections is done unlawfully unless, in the case of a pregnancy of more than 20 weeks’ gestation, the person doing the act believes that the miscarriage is necessary to save the life of the woman or girl or to prevent serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health.”

          [lprent: Unrelated, if you haven’t already, read my note on a previous comment ]

          • A Nonny Moose

            Comedy, you’re cherry picking quotes. This from earlier in the article:

            “The woman’s family complained after the 2004 deaths, saying she wanted a termination due to her heart condition but was advised the health risk of her pregnancy was small or that it was too late for a legal termination. ”

            The quote you presented showed that yes, an abortion was an option but only BEFORE the legal limit. She had past the 20 week mark when she found out the risk to her life, therefore was denied.

            I’m not sure what you’re saying with the second quote. What it says there is that yes, abortion is lawful up to 20 week mark.

          • Ari

            [unless] the person doing the act believes that the miscarriage is necessary to save the life of the woman or girl or to prevent serious permanent injury to her physical or mental health.’

            In an ideal world, this passage would mean what you think it does- that people under risk of injury either mental or physical would have access to abortion if they needed it.

            In reality, such restrictions tend to be applied a lot more arbitrarily than we’d like, and people can lose their ability to choose to preserve their health because their doctor(s) object to their decision and want to play games with words like “serious”, which are not defined adequately.

            What I was asking for was some sort of evidence that this is the rule as applied, not an exception that can’t be relied upon.

            The restriction is not that the procedure has to be carried out in a “licensed institution”, but rather that a doctor gets to play gatekeeper based on whether they consider the physical harm or mental distress being risked to be “serious”.

            If I needed a surgery for a health problem as a man, I wouldn’t be flat out denied if my doctor thought my problem was not serious. When a mother has a health problem where the treatment involves losing a pregnancy, why should the situation be different for her?

            • comedy

              “If I needed a surgery for a health problem as a man, I wouldn’t be flat out denied if my doctor thought my problem was not serious. ”

              Ummmm Yes you probably would.

              • A Nonny Moose

                Ohh fantastic comeback. Care to share why, other than “because I said so”?

                Also Comedy, I would like to ask whether you’re a man or a woman. Because as a woman, intersecting with race, socio-economic standing and sexuality, you should understand women’s health has long been seen as less important, our pain and sickness “all in our head”. It’s a rotten Victorian hold over.

                • comedy

                  “Because as a woman, intersecting with race, socio-economic standing and sexuality, you should understand women’s health has long been seen as less important, our pain and sickness “all in our head’. It’s a rotten Victorian hold over.”

                  Not in NZ – women’s health issues are seen as just as important if not more important than mens health issues.

                  But if you feel this way and have any examples I suggest you contact Sandra Coney she is a very strong advocate.


                  • A Nonny Moose

                    Ohh thank you SO much for telling me what doesn’t happen to women in our country! Of COURSE all women know to take up their non-ignored concerns in the right places. Silly us, we must be imagining it all..

                    Privilege, ain’t it a wonderful thing…

              • A Nonny Moose

                Also: try to get your tubes tied. Then try to get a vasectomy.

                See which one is easier.

                • loota

                  Uhhhhhh…brilliant post of the day award 😛

                  captcha: modifies


                  • A Nonny Moose

                    Haha you know what a I mean. Take a man and a woman, attempt to get said procedures, see who has the easiest time.

                    • comedy

                      One needs to be carried out in a hospital whereas one can be done in an out patients setting this is due to the different plumbing I don’t see how this example is relevant ?

                      Oh and I would be fascinated for you to share examples of how in NZ “women’s health has long been seen as less important, our pain and sickness “all in our head’. It’s a rotten Victorian hold over.”

      • Ari 8.1.2

        Not sure where you got that idea from, frankly, but a link wouldn’t hurt next time. I’ve never heard that from a reliable source.

  9. deemac 9

    How many progressive measures were popular when first proposed?
    A woman’s right to choose is important. Abortion law in NZ is a mess – the fact that most women, particularly educated middle class women, can get one means there isn’t a big fuss about it. But it is precisely the most vulnerable women who don’t get access and finish up needing late abortions. If we made abortion on demand freely available for the first 12 weeks we could cut the number of late abortions.

  10. Maia 10

    That’s a spectacularly unconvincing set of arguments. If abortion at 24 weeks feels wrong to you don’t have one. “I’m sorry but an abortion at 24 weeks (in the US they’re called Partial Birth Abortions for literal rather than emotional reasons) feels wrong.” is not a public policy argument. (And partial birth abortions is a non-medical made up term that you are still managing to use inaccurately)

    But your other argument is more offensive than unconvincing. Women should continue to jump through ridiculous burecratic hoops and travel great distances unnecessarily to getget access to abortion until the focus groups demand otherwise? I have less than no time for the Labour party and this sort of craven lack of principle is one of the reasons why.

    • george 10.1

      The Labour party? Aren’t they the ones pushing to liberalize abortion? Or are you against that? I don’t understand.

      • A Nonny Moose 10.1.1

        It is possible to support a bill, but not support a party.

        Just as it’s possible to support a party, but not support a bill.

        Wow, lefties not being blind idealogues…whoda thunk…

        • george

          But shes saying they have a craven lack of principle because they are putting up a members bill that she appears to agree with.

          Is it because they’ve put up a bill she agrees with that she thinks they lack principles? I don’t get it.

          • Pascal's bookie

            Member’s bills are not put up by parties, but sometimes they rally around a member who puts one up,

            and sometimes



            • george

              Members bills are signed off by caucus.

              • Julie

                And this one a) hasn’t made it to being a Member’s Bill yet and b) would be a conscience vote anyway so might get signed off by a caucus that didn’t intend to whip votes on it.

      • Maia 10.1.2

        To explain – that the labour party has supporters who will argue that women should continue to jump through ridiculous bureaucratic hoops and travel great distances unnecessarily to get access to abortion until focus groups demand otherwise is an example of just how deep the craven lack of principle goes (usually supporters are more principled than MPs).

        • Ari

          It also has “supporters” who argue that “now really isn’t the time for this argument, it’s distracting us from the important issues that will let us finally win enough political traction to get to your* stuff later”. Or, in short, wolves in sheep’s clothing who have betrayed the fact that they are in fact worse than social conservatives- they’re social conservatives who claim to speak for the rest of us. As if we can’t speak for ourselves.

          And I’m not just looking at you, Trotter. 😛

          *Or “their”, if you happen to support someone who they think you shouldn’t. What, a genuinely pro-choice man who doesn’t run away when the going gets tough? Don’t be ridiculous, get out of here.

  11. Scott 11

    This is a private members bill – but even if it wasn’t one, should Labour now only take positions that are “safe”, rather than right?

    Labour MPs also introduced bills that led to the legalisation of prostitution and homosexuality – progressive measures that were the right thing to do, even though they were controversial and divisive at the time.

    The abortion law in this country is a nonsense. We already effectively have abortion on demand, so why shouldn’t the law reflect that?

    It’s reasonable to have a debate about the point at which abortion should no longer become freely available. I don’t know enough about whether or not 24 weeks is too late, but I’m afraid “it feels wrong” isn’t a very compelling argument.

  12. Meg 12

    Really disappointed to see this post coming from the Standard. By all means propose other perspectives but the points in the post are weakly made and have been rebuffed elsewhere (see all the links that Sophia, Deborah, Julie and Maia post above). Actually on the Chris Trotter piece linked to Chris puts up similar arguments and has them rebuffed in the comments and appears in the end to agree that there may be a threat to the ‘gains’ for women that he might have to support. I hope the author of the post will engage with the comment thread and further justify their somewhat shaky reasoning for this criticism

    • george 12.1

      I’m disappointed to see the Handmirror hasn’t covered the attack on workers’ rights despite it being made public nearly a week ago and being likely to affect women disproportionately to men. It seems we can’t all get what we want all the time.

      [lprent: If that had been directed at this site, then I’d have simply pointed you to the last section of our About entitled “No – you must…” with a good chance that I’d kick your arse off for a wee holiday. Exactly the same things apply at the HandMirror (except they’re probably more kindly towards children than I am). ]

      • Meg 12.1.1

        I am sure there must be some logical connection to your reply and the comment I have made. I just can’t for the life of me work it out. must be too advanced in your reasoning there George

      • Ari 12.1.2

        It seems you’ve missed the enormous amount of writing THM has done on economic issues in the past. I don’t really think you can fairly question their bona fides on feminist economics, because it’s damn obvious the writers universally care about the issue. You don’t get to demand posts on every specific issue on a blog, (what strange sense of entitlement gives you the right to make that sort of demand on the time of someone who’s not writing professionally?) but you can defensibly lament a categorical lack of coverage on an issue when there’s plenty of time to post, or a criticise an individual post on its merits.

        Meg was criticising this post for advocating political “safety” over political principles. You were demanding someone write about a topic you were interested in. Do you see how those two things are completely incomparable, even if they both relate to women’s issues?

      • Julie 12.1.3

        Thanks for your feedback on what we over at The Hand Mirror should write about. I’d note that we’ve only put up 8 posts since Thursday last week, when the news broke about the 90 day ridiculousness being extended (not to mention the further attacks on workers that came out more fully on Sunday). Did it occur to you that some of us might actually work for unions, or be active union members, and thus be directly engaged in fighting that fight in our day to day work, which may mean that we don’t have much time or energy to write about it in our free time?

        In contrast, Steve Chadwick’s proposed Member’s Bill hit the news on July 3rd. It is now July 20th. In that almost three week period there have now been two posts on women’s reproductive rights at The Standard – the post I wrote on July 5th and this post today. Yet there have been, by my count, 160-ish posts here at The Standard in that same timeframe. Hardly a fair comparison.

        I am not a regular writer for The Standard, and consider myself but a mere guest poster here (although I know lprent always has the door open to me, quite literally, which is v nice and much appreciated). On the July 3rd post there were a number of regular writers here who did make positive pro-choice comments. However I have yet to see a pro-choice post (and I don’t consider this to be one) from a regular Standard writer. I’m not demanding that someone write one, and I wrote my guest post on July 5th because I was worried there wouldn’t be one otherwise. But I share Meg’s disappointment.

        • george

          You’re the one who criticized the standard for not posting what you wanted. Even though you have a log-in. FWIW I read both THM and TS and see them as sibling blogs. If I want gender issues I read the hand mirror and if I want class issues I come here. Every other aspect of your politics seem interchangeable and clearly you have a close enough relationship that you share posting privileges with each other.

          [lprent: Nope. There are about 30 people who have login author rights here and have done a number of posts (I just counted them). Some are a lot more active than others at any point in time. People are largely picked because some of us trust them, they are known to be able to write and because they offer a different perspective. The range runs from my personal brand of conservative socialism (and hard-line sysoping) and probably to rockys animal rights activism (and in several other directions as well).

          You really have to read the individual authors because we frequently disagree with each others opinions. The About states the common thread as being part of the general labour movement, which Julie happens to share – as do I – but probably from vastly different reasons. About the only thing that we really have in common with THM is that they also run cooperatively, like us without an editorial policy, and you should read individual authors. I know I do – Deborah is quite different to Maia in both the issues she looks at, her perspective, and the way she writes.Their focus is quite definitely towards feminist issues, some of which are similar to the issues we’re interested because women get affected by politico/economic issues as well.

          Looking at them or us as being a cohesive group really reflects mostly on your attention to detail. ]

          • Julie

            Actually my initial comment on this post didn’t criticise The Std, but did rebutt Tammy. I know how much lprent hates it when people treat The Std like it’s a monolith. I only raised those comparison points around almost 3 weeks and only my guest post and this one because you treated THM as a monolith and were IMHO being rather inconsistent.
            THM and The Std are both group blogs. The only person who has posting rights at both is me, and I’ve only written here thrice with those rights , the other posts being th. General election live blog in Nov 2008. To claim that The Std and THM are somehow the same people w different foci is really odd.

          • Deborah

            Good grief. Where on earth did you get the idea that THM and the Standard are in some way affiliated. They are not, at all. Plenty of us THM bloggers also post at other blogs. For example, I also post at Australian left-wing blog Larvatus Prodeo. Are you now going to claim that THM and Larvatus Prodeo are sister blogs, based on my 20 or so posts that I have made at Larvatus Prodeo?

            I have nothing whatsoever to do with the Standard, other than commenting her very occasionally, and I am shocked that you would somehow think that THM is a sister-site to the Standard. It is not.

            • Julie

              You are so totes LP Deborah – right down to the Australian accent 😛 I fully expect you to start spelling Labour without a u any second now.

              • IrishBill

                Um this thread seems to have taken a weird tangent. That said, Julie, we do have our own special interests (some might say obsessions) at the standard and probably don’t do enough feminist orientated posts. You should feel free to plug that gap by posting (or cross-posting) here more often. It would be most welcome.

                • Kezia

                  I think that’s a brilliant idea – I’ve thought for a long time that this blog needs a regular contributor on feminist issues. Go Julie go.

                  And, I’d also like to reiterate Meg’s comment – I am incredibly disappointed by this post. Starting a debate on this issue could be argued to be “stupid, stupid politics” (personally I don’t think you’re giving the NZ public enough credit), but the end goal is better policy. From The Standard (if not any other NZ political blog) I’ve come to expect an understanding that politics is not just about winning votes, but about creating good policy.

                  And for the record – this bill isn’t about women “missing out” on abortions. It’s about treating them with the respect they deserve, should they choose to have one.

                  [lprent: Authors write what they want to – that is why they’re given authoring rights. There have been only a few occasions (probably between 5 and 10 depending how you view it) where one or more of the moderators has felt it necessary to moderate a post. Most of those have been because of legal issues or just piss-poor writing that didn’t express well. Apart from that, we may correct a few spelling or grammatical errors. It is a coop blog – not a editorial office. ]

                  • Meg

                    To clarify, as I said I don’t dare to say there should be a ‘Standard’ position on abortion and I welcome the chance to argue the case against different perspectives (well welcome may be a little strong given what a distressing process it can often be but I’m sure the practice will serve us well). I would have expected however a slightly more detailed post that engages with the arguments in more detail.

                    Considering this debate has now been going on the blogsphere for three weeks (and obviously the decades prior to that) and many competent people have already debated these points (see the posts referenced in early comments) it is disappointing to see so little regard for those blogs in the above post. If perhaps this post moved the argument on from Chris’s points or proposed a perspective that hadn’t already been thoroughly rebutted it might reassure dissenting voices that the poster had a real desire to engage on the issue.

                    As it is, I would venture to say the blog post is more about ‘perception building’. A post written to ensure people can’t claim ‘The Standard’ is pro-abortion’ and to ensure that the Labour party isn’t painted as being behind this bill. That is the really disappointing part.

                    I really hope I mis-understand the purpose of the post.

                    • lprent

                      I don’t dare to say there should be a ‘Standard’ position on abortion

                      Wise decision. If you look back over the posts that Tammy has done in the past you’ll see that she has her own perspective on the issues she writes about. That diversity of opinion is what I hope for amongst authors (and have to sometimes quell ‘discussions’ on in the e-mail backend). The labour movement is a pretty broad ‘church’, and I know that the broad feminist movement is as well. It has both my mother and my nieces into it. Not to mention the women that I was in the army and MBA with.

                    • Meg

                      Yep…and as I clarified diversity of opinion is not the criticism

                • lprent

                  Um this thread seems to have taken a weird tangent.

                  Which is why I’m glad that I accidentially turned comment threading on and left it that way.

                  • IrishBill

                    Yeah, fair enough. I wasn’t a fan of it to start with (as you know) but it has worked out well.

        • lprent

          It is like everything else, there are so many things I’d like to write about and so few that I have time for.

          For some reason (not unrelated to my gender) writing posts about feminist issues isn’t something that I have a major interest in. My writing obsessions tend towards different directions (mostly code)

      • A Nonny Moose 12.1.4

        Christ George, if you’ve read THM, then surely you know a little more about Feminism 101, one of the tenets of which is “haven’t you got more important things to worry your little lady brains about?/But what about X important issue?!”

        Derail is Derail

  13. Me 13

    “From what I’ve seen having an abortion is awful and most women think long and hard before deciding to go ahead with one. For many, it’s one of the worst days of their lives.”

    And for women who don’t believe that life begins at conception, abortion is stressful but not a great scar on their life.

    But to get an abortion, same women have to *pretend* to be greatly mentally distressed.

    Stop the charade, stop the acting – reform the law.

  14. Me 14

    “I’m sorry but an abortion at 24 weeks (in the US they’re called Partial Birth Abortions for literal rather than emotional reasons) feels wrong.”

    24 weeks is around the point of viability, so if there is going to be any point at which abortion on demand stops, then this makes sense.

    My cousin used to work in a hospital doing second trimester abortions. All were because either the mother’s health was endangered by the pregnancy continuing, or because tests revealed that the fetus had serious problems and in some cases was not viable at all. It would be a rare woman who got to 20 weeks pregnant and suddenly changed her mind – but it can take to around 20 weeks pregnant for the stress on the mother’s body to become apparent, and for tests results such as amniocentesis to come back. It can then take a couple of weeks for a decision to be made and the abortion to be scheduled. That’s why any time limit needs to be around 24 weeks.

    It doesn’t read like you have actually had much experience in this area.

  15. Ari 15

    What disturbs me most about this criticism of the Member’s Bill is that the posters (by which I don’t mean the commenters) here seemed to agree that Labour got beaten at the last election at least partially because they ran a safe, boring, and uninspiring campaign. Granted, some of those posters have moved on, so individual opinions will vary, but I think the earlier notion was the right one- safety isn’t a valuable commodity for a party as large as Labour. Political movements shouldn’t back away from what their members believe in all the time. There is perhaps such a thing as going too far on a given issue, but there’s also such a thing as never having tried, and you can’t go too far before you’ve even tried. This issue is not a “third rail”. The argument right now seems to be we shouldn’t try, when before the election we were all cajoling Labour to put some fire and passion into their campaign.

    You don’t get fire and passion by running away from an issue because it’s too safe. We can’t ask the Opposition to be both inspiring and careful- they’re quite rightly mutually exclusive, which is why Obama could never live up to his campaign no matter what he did. If you want fire on our side, you have to accept that sometimes it burns you a little, too, and you have to be willing to at least let people go to bat on controversial issues, even if they don’t win.

    • loota 15.1

      I wish Labour had played courageous fire with things like economic sovereignty, industrial development, foreign policy and democratic participation instead of all the time spent on issues which were ultimately pointless distractions and made the electorate not give a damn any more about a Labour agenda.

      • mcflock 15.1.1

        “pointless distractions” – unless you’re an affected party.

        Yes, I would have liked to have seen more than a couple of steps forward in the nine years preceding Darth Key’s dark side of the Focus Group, but I’m not going to begrudge them the few things they actually made traction on.

    • Ari 15.2

      Women and their health are not pointless distractions, and I find it offensive that you’d even imply such a thing.

      I couldn’t give a crap about what their agenda is. The Labour Party are our public servants- they exist to advance the policy of their constituency, which Steve is doing admirably.

      I would’ve loved it if Labour had raised the issues you do seem to find important as well, but they don’t get to pick and choose- their job is to find out what we care about, not make it up entirely on their own, and the party leadership seems to have forgotten this.

      • Julie 15.2.1

        I think I need to get me a t shirt that says “ignore me I’m just a distraction” 😉

      • lprent 15.2.2

        I’d agree that Steve is doing a good job in putting this bill forward and I can’t think of anyone more capable of doing this debate (she is my parents MP).

        In my view, It is a issue that does need to be revisited. The 1977 (?) act was a inglorious compromise that was effectively useless right from the start, as the 1982 (?) court decision showed. The act bears little resemblance to reality and appears to simply be there to humiliate women.

        The question really is where does the net bill have to go. Steve has put a proposed bill together, and you’d expect that people will disagree with it from all sides of the debate, and it will get modified accordingly. But you have to have a proposal before people can disagree with it constructively.

        Looks like Tammy is starting to do her bit of disagreement…. Personally I found her remarks quite constructive, and the comments it raised about the 24 week limit to be pretty useful.

        What is interesting to me is that the maximum termination date seems to be the main point of contention this time around, which is quite a contrast to what I remember it being last time around. There seems to be a remarkable level of agreement on the other aspects of the bill (from my limited reading across the blogs)

  16. loota 16

    Ari, it would be worth remembering that their constituency comprises a lot of people.

    Without finding issues which resonate with a majority in that constituency i.e. issues which are not seen as a distraction in the current political climate but instead seen as courageous vital leadership positions, then Labour will not be able to form a majority and will not able to do anything more than voice those things that you are most concerned with.

    You say that political parties don’t get to pick and choose their policies, but of course every political party uses its internal structures -including their Womens Branches – to pick and choose their policies.

    And to further clarify I do not believe that the Labour Party are public servants, yours or mine.

  17. Pascal's bookie 17

    Some of the tactical/strategic arguments floating around remind me of this

    I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

  18. QoT 18

    Julie and other commenters have covered the real meat of the issue, so I’m just going to go with, “Is your hypothetical friend stupid?” because seriously, if you’re going to bail on Labour because one of its MPs wants to liberalise abortion laws, Green is probably the last place you should go …

  19. Kleefer 19

    It’s a shame socialists like Chadwick can’t take their support for individual rights in the case of pregnant women and apply them across the board. What they don’t understand is that economic freedom and social freedom are two sides of the same coin.

  20. Mossaman 20

    so it turns out this post was indeed a primer after all.
    that explains its vacuousness.

  21. Jum 21

    Why would anyone seriously use anything America does as an argument to support theirs about sexual matters when their porn watchers outnumber their churchgoers and ‘fox’ and ‘news’ is used in the same sentence?

    Pro-life people, especially the church, seek to control women’s choices. They do nothing to teach men to keep their pants zipped up. They actively encourage young men to ‘put it about’, ‘get their end away’, ‘sow your wild oats’ and then find a ‘nice’ girl to marry’. This may sound like old thinking but the same hypocrisy continues to this day.

    They know women are the lynchpins of society but they do not want them to have any power, just the responsibility of life. They blame women for the breakdown of society yet women have never had any real power in society. I only had to witness the disgusting way Helen Clark was treated by both men and women while Prime Minister just because she was a female.

    Pro-lifers are into war and are happy to send their young men and women off to war to kill others; they kill the doctors who dare to take the side of women and perform abortions; this government is actively seeking to reduce women’s pay equity and to make it more difficult for women to raise a child on their own if they did decide to keep the child.

    Men’s first sexual thoughts about women in general is one of scoring, then if she becomes pregnant (it can’t be his), ‘what is SHE going to do about it?’, and that she should be grateful if he wants to stay with her. Being pregnant is always laid completely on the shoulders of the woman. Until that societal thinking changes, then SHE must continue to have the final say on abortion or pregnancy.

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