Get WAACed: Women’s Abortion Action Campaign

The F Collection is a blog project by F that highlights a feminist or women’s rights campaign, group or issue every Monday. Read on!

Abortion is still covered by the Crimes Act in New South Wales and can carry a sentence of up to ten years.

How can this be, when we have legal access to abortion clinics (in cities and larger towns) and RU486?

You can read more about recent controversy over abortion law in Australia here and here. The Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC) facebook page is also a great way to keep up with this issue.

Conservative religious organisations continue to influence the abortion issue in Australia, though they do not have as much traction as extremists in the United States.

Abortion and reproductive rights have been, and are, hotly contested in Australia. These rights have never been a given, but have been won by feminist campaigning.

In Sydney, WAAC have been active on this issue since 1972. Yep, that’s right, 40 years, since the heyday of women’s liberation (Happy Birthday, WAAC!).

WAAC are committed to the complete legalisation and accessibility of abortion, and to free – and freely available – contraception.

Want to get involved? WAAC meet every second Tuesday, out West and closer to the city, and you can find meeting and contact details here and also here.

Christine, long-term WAAC member, says:

I got involved in WAAC because for me the question of who owns a women’s body, who decides how it is used and for what, is a bedrock women’s liberation issue. If we don’t have ultimate rights over our own bodies, then other rights become immediately conditional on our bodies doing or being what others want, or legislate, or decide.

Control of women’s bodies is one issue that recurs across feminisms. For an art project on body politics and Islamaphobia, take a look here.

Though some women claim it is possible to be a feminist and to be anti-abortion, bell hooks, feminist, anti-racist activist and scholar, puts a counter argument:

The abortion issue… called the (US) nation’s attention to a woman’s body as no other issue could have done. It was a direct challenge to the church… While it is possible for women to individually choose never to have an abortion, allegiance to feminist politics means that they are still pro-choice, that they support the rights of females who need abortions to choose whether or not to have them.

This point was brought home to me when walking to an International Women’s Day event recently, I stumbled across a prayer circle chanting loudly outside the Preterm Foundation in Surry Hills. The prayer group held models of fetuses suspended in air, with no woman attached, as though these fetuses were somehow separate to the lives of the person bearing them.

I interrupted their circle and gave them flyers for IWD. But they quickly went back to their loud prayers, shaming women during what will already, sometimes, be a difficult or painful time. These people don’t support bodily autonomy for everyone – especially if a person has a uterus.

Are reproductive rights important to you? You can talk about it tonight at the F forum, and attend the next WAAC meeting.

You can also read more on recent developments in abortion law here.

2 Responses to “Get WAACed: Women’s Abortion Action Campaign”
  1. Jeanne Rudd says:

    Congratulations WAAC on 40 years of activism. Control of our bodies always will be the most important feminist issue. Love you all. Jeanne

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  1. […] latest on the F Collection is up. This week it’s on WAAC, the Women’s Abortion Action […]

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