City Hub

Absence of anti-abortionist points to absence of debate

BY JAZ SINGH-BRAR
The deportation of US anti-abortion activist Troy Newman last week has drawn criticism from some unlikely places.

Two pro-choice campaigners said that the deportation of Mr Newman was superficial, and failed to acknowledge the difficulty many NSW women face in accessing abortion services.

The deportation of Mr Newman drew media attention last week, after Mr Newman ignored the refusal of his Australian visa, and arrived at Melbourne Airport, where he was detained.

Mr Newman told media last week that his visa had been revoked mid-way through his plane trip from the US.

Pip Hinman, a pro-choice campaigner who has co-authored a book on the subject, told City Hub that Mr Newman’s deportation was a quick fix rather than an effective solution to the NSW abortion legalisation debate.

“I don’t agree with Newman’s extreme far right views but I also don’t agree with an arbitrary decision from the government deciding who can and cannot enter the country,” Ms Hinman said.

“It is better for the public and community to have a political debate and discussion rather than just covering the conversation and banning someone.”

Ms Hinman said she believed the government’s decision has not deterred, but rather has pushed American pro-life group Operation Rescue and its Australian counterpart Right to Life to keep trying.

“Denying Newman’s visa has not been an effective solution. This is just the beginning of a long aggressive campaign by them. They are only a small number of people but are very well resourced” Ms Hinman said.

“They have the funding and the resources and they won’t be giving up soon.”

NSW Greens MP and abortion legalisation campaigner Mehreen Faruqi told City Hub that NSW Premier Mike Baird should have condemned Mr Newman’s views and position.

Dr Faruqi told City Hub the government needed to face the issue and make changes to a law that currently does not reflect its surrounding society.

“Premier Baird must break his silence and condemn Mr Newman’s extreme, violent, anti-choice and misogynistic views which have gone as far as to branding women and doctors as murderers,” she said.

“It’s time for NSW parliament to come together and change archaic, more than a century old laws that criminalise women for making a choice about their body and a doctor for performing a safe medical procedure.”

“They are out dated laws that don’t align [with] what the community wants nor deserves.”

A protest to Mr Newman’s visit was to be held on Sunday October 4 at Jackson’s on George, Circular Quay but was cancelled due to the deportation of Mr Newman.

The protest aimed to raise community awareness, knowledge and support in regards to removing abortion from the NSW Crimes Act.

Mr Newman, invited to the country by Australia’s Right to Life anti-abortion group, was due to speak at several conferences voicing the need to fight Dr Faruqi’s parliamentary bill aiming to legalise abortion.

Joint organiser for Sunday’s protest, pro-choice activist Georgia Tkachuk said she believed the government had made the wrong decision.

“Revoking his visa just reinforces border force tactics that this government is so used to using. The decision was arbitrary, and just enforces power,” she said.

“In a country with freedom of speech, the government shouldn’t have the right to police who is to come in, but also to police what is to be spoken about and dictate the conversation of Australia.”

She suspects Mr Newman’s extreme views may have forced community discussion around an issue which she believes has been stigmatised in the wider community.

“He should have been able to come and speak, yet also face people who want to engage in debate with him. That’s how we can successfully create change,” Ms Tkachuk said.

“Things like Mr. Newman arriving ultimately force people to talk about the issue, and with such extreme views it just calls for immediate community action.”

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