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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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Abortion and democracy

The majority of Australians support abortion on demand; the majority of politicians don’t or, more accurately, won’t.

According to a new study in People and Place Journal 57 percent favour a women’s right to abortion without restrictions. One third support abortion in specific circumstances.  Only 4 percent oppose abortion on any grounds.

45 percent of Catholics support a women’s right to choose.

Katharine Betts, the author of the study, told Adele Horin from the Sydney Morning Herald (Right to choose abortion wins strong support) that the idea that liberalising abortion laws was a vote loser was wrong. She said:

Politicians feel it’s dangerous to try to change the status quo in the face of a very vocal anti-choice lobby. But they’re wrong. Voters are more likely to vote for a pro-choice candidate than an anti-choice candidate.

In both the ACT and Victoria Labor Governments have decriminalised abortion. 

In Canberra the Labor Government lost its majority, but the swing was to the Left, with the pro-abortion Greens the main winners.

In Victoria it looks as if the Labor Government will be returned at the next election.

The other States and the Northern Territory still have abortion as a crime, but liberal interpretations of what is a legal or illegal termination have saved politicians from addressing the issue. Until now.

In Queensland police have charged Tegan Leach with procuring her own abortion (or miscarriage) and her partner, Sergei Brennan, with supplying drugs to procure an abortion (after dropping the charge of attempting to procure an abortion against him).

As a consequence, advice to hospitals and clinics cast doubt on the legality of abortions in Queensland.

The Bligh Government amended the criminal law to supposedly reinstate the status quo without decriminalising abortion.

The nominally pro-choice Premier, Anna Bligh, refused to decriminalise abortion because to do so would have split the Government.  Her Deputy, Paul Lucas, is virulently anti-choice.

So the majority clearly support abortion, yet their representatives refuse to express that view by de-criminalising abortion.  As Dr Betts put it they ‘have been bluffed by anti-choice groups or are cowardly.’

In a real democracy we’d throw these unrepresentative swill out today and put in delegates who did what we told them.  

But as the ongoing criminality of abortion shows, we live in a guided democratic system at best,where the whole parliamentary process is aimed at reflecting the interests of capital, at times mediated through the wishes of working people.

There have been glimpses in the past of a truly democratic society – the Paris Commune in 1871, the short lived Russian Revolutions of 1905 and 1917, Shanghai in 1927, Spain in 36-39, Hungary 1956, Portugal 1974, Iran 1979 and Poland 1980-81 to name a few.

In Russia for example the workers’ and peasants’ government legalised abortion. We in Australia have yet to win the legal status the Bolsheviks implemented 92 years ago.  

Short of revolution, how can we win abortion rights? 

The gains of the past that women won through mass radical action give us a pointer.  In those days there was a women’s liberation movement.

Much is still needed – free and accessible child care, equal wages, long term fully paid maternity leave, free contraception, abortion on demand… 

Electing the likes of nominal pro-choice Queensland premier Anna Bligh or having Julia  Gillard as Deputy Prime Minister isn’t going to deliver  any of that.

Only a mass movement from below can force the do-nothings from Labor to legalise abortion.

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Comments

Comment from Juergen
Time October 5, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Quote: ‘The nominally pro-choice Premier, Anna Bligh, refused to decriminalise abortion because to do so would have split the Government. Her Deputy, Paul Lucas, is virulently anti-choice.’

If you want to understand why Australian politicians avoid the abortion issue like the plague you don’t have to look any further than this. There isn’t any clear partisan line in Australia like there is (or appears to be) in America because the majority of Australians have much more nuanced views than just ‘Abortion good!’ or ‘Abortion bad!’.

And while many Australians don’t want abortions criminalised, I think most would be pretty disgusted by the arrogant, overtly ideological vitriol in this article. I wonder exactly how is placing certain restrictions on abortion and affront on our democracy.

Comment from John
Time October 5, 2009 at 8:50 pm

Thanks Juergen. I don’t write in vitriol. I write in my version of logic. If the majority of Australians want, as surveys suggest, abortion decriminalised, why don’t politicians respond to their wishes?

Based on the survey why do 4 percent of the population determine abortion laws in Queensland?

Bligh is clearly retreating from her previous support for abortion because to my mind she knows Lucas would topple her or destroy her Government if she decriminalised abortion.

If I am wrong I’d be glad to see your reasoned response.

Comment from John
Time October 5, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Juergen, another point or two.

The ‘restrictions’ on abortion you talk about are in effect to treat it as a crime in most states.

In Victoria and the ACT Governments did actually decriminalise abortion, so they haven’t avoided it like the plague as you suggest.

As to nuance, according to study, 57 percent support abortion on demand, with something over 30 percent doing so in certain circumstances. That looks to me like a clear majority in favour of lifting all ‘restrictions’ on abortion.

Comment from Jürgen
Time October 5, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Quote: ‘Thanks Juergen. I don’t write in vitriol. I write in my version of logic. If the majority of Australians want, as surveys suggest, abortion decriminalised, why don’t politicians respond to their wishes?’

It’s a bit naive, I think, to assume that politicians would (or should) just respond to Australians’ wishes. Do you really think they’re going to risk fragmenting their party or otherwise damaging their career? At the end of the day, politicians are self-preserving, just life everyone else.

Quote: ‘Based on the survey why do 4 percent of the population determine abortion laws in Queensland?’

That 4% of the population don’t choose the abortion laws; politicians do.

Quote: ‘Bligh is clearly retreating from her previous support for abortion because to my mind she knows Lucas would topple her or destroy her Government if she decriminalised abortion.’

As I have been saying.

Quote: ‘If I am wrong I’d be glad to see your reasoned response.’

Well, there you have it.

Comment from John
Time October 6, 2009 at 5:47 am

Thanks Juergen. At least we agree on the seeming threat to Bligh’s Government that decriminalising abortion could pose.

I think Lucas wouldn’t in the end split or destroy the Government. He too is wedded to the gravy train of power.

Politicians should lead and follow. Bligh could push through decriminalisation and force the minority to accept it.

One main point in writing this was to compare the nature of our limited demcoracy with that of workers in revolt, when they set up democratic organs of rule in all areas of life with automatic recall of delegates, representatives on the average working wage and so on.

Another point I was trying to make was that most progressive reforms in society come about through struggle. We force politicians to legislate reforms.

And finally, while it is true that the 4 percent don’t make the laws and that politicians do, that 4 percent runs the politicians on abortion. Or at least the perception among politicians that that 4 percent is all powerful shapes the way politicians act on abortion. A mass campaign for women’s rights is needed to counterbalance the strength of that idea and win real reforms like paid maternity leave that is more than Labor’s pittance, free child care, abortion on demand…

Comment from John
Time October 6, 2009 at 6:24 am

There is something deeper in all of this. Why do we have anti-abortion laws? I think the rise of capitalism, the need for it to have the working class produce produce the next generation of workers (on the cheap for capital), the moral strictures that flow from the need for control over th class and so forth saw a range of laws (such as the criminalisation of homosexuality and abortion) introduced or strengthened.

Pingback from digg » Blog Archive » Roundup: Diane Rehm’s Show Covers Abortion in Health Reform
Time October 7, 2009 at 6:34 am

[…] En Passant: Abortion and democracy […]

Comment from Abba Arms
Time October 14, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I don’t know where you get your figures from but they are not correct. How anyone can support the murder of a child is beyond me. Partial birth abortion is murder and there is no other way to put it. If a child is indused at 6 or more months why isn’t that child put up for adoption instead of murdering him/her. Most women I have talked to about abortion have no idea what is realy going on and how these late term abortions are performed. They are horified!. The Government don’t want them to know either. The Government is suppose to be working for the people, we will be doing our best to inform people about the real truth behind abortion laws.