Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Left in Limbo

When 19-year-old Tegan Leach fell pregnant, she and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Sergie Brennan, decided they did not want to carry the pregnancy to term. She chose to have an abortion. For making that choice, she now faces seven years in prison, and her boyfriend, three.

Tegan Leach lives in Cairns, Queensland in Australia, where having an abortion is a crime. From this article, it appears that a woman can be administered RU-486, if it is determined that the woman’s health is at risk. The article doesn’t mention any other exceptions. So, Leach and Brennan procured a “Chinese version” of RU-486 from Ukraine and induced a miscarriage at home. Police later found the packets that had contained the drugs while searching their home for other reasons.

At the heart of this story is Tegan Leach and I don’t want to divert our attention from that. But I am struck by how her case reveals the systematic way that anti-abortion laws and advocates work to circumscribe the choices of all women, by creating an atmosphere of terror. Women and doctors fear prosecution, ostracism, and vigilante attacks. Since Leach’s case came to light:

Their home has been firebombed.
Her boyfriend’s car has been vandalized.
They have had to go into hiding.
Doctors have stopped prescribing RU-486 (and many of them were hesitant to do so before her case, given the ambiguity surrounding whether or not it should be administered).
And:
Queensland hospitals recently suspended drug-induced abortions after the Leach case and insurance companies in the state said that they would withdraw cover from doctors who aided medical abortions. Their decision forced dozens of women over the border into New South Wales for terminations. After doctors there, too, refused to perform abortions for fear of being prosecuted, a number of women were left in limbo…

Always, women are “left in limbo,” waiting for others to decide what our level of autonomy over our own bodies should be.

1 comment:

Suzan said...

I was thinking of emigrating to NZ.

Are they really this xtianist?

Changing my mind,

Suzan

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