Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Dangerous Remedy - Warning, here be politics

Reading the T.V. guide last week  I was drawn to an image which I thought must have been straight out of Mad Men - a voluptuous, glamorous redhead in an amazing 60s shift dress. When I read the accompanying article I realised this was a character from an ABC telemovie 'A Dangerous Method', a dramatization of the fight to legalize abortion in Victoria.

Tired of seeing female patients die from unsafe backyard or self-induced procedures, Dr. Bertram Wainer decided that the law must be changed to protect the health of women. He placed an advertisement asking to speak to women who had abortions, and found that many of them had their procedures done by gynecologists who were felt it was their duty to help women, despite the threat of heavy legal penalties. When Dr. Wainer asked these surgeons to go public, he found that they were experiencing pressure from police who wanted to be paid off to keep from raiding the practices. The vast majority of the movie deals with Dr. Wainer's efforts to expose the web of corruption in the police force and consequently obtain abortion reforms.

The telemovie itself can be watched here: .

There are some graphic scenes, and it made me uncomfortable to see the level of violence and corruption that was considered acceptable by the police force at the time. However, I still think it is a very important story to be aware of, and well worth watching. I deeply respect Dr. Bertram Wainer and those who aided him for risking their lives in the quest to protect women driven to 'backyard butchers' and to expose the injustices of the legal system.

I am staunchly pro-choice myself, and I breathed a sigh of relief when Obama was re-elected today. Although I do not live in America, I believe that my own country tends to follow suit in many arenas, and I feared the consequences of a Romney government looking to repeal Roe vs. Wade and take funding away from Planned Parenthood. I was afraid of a government who said things like "some girls rape easy", or that a pregnancy resulting from rape was "something that God intended to happen", or that women could not get pregnant from "legitimate rape". I'm glad that these men have been stopped for now, but I do not think this means women can get complacent about our rights. Australia's current opposition leader has said that women (yes, specifically women) should regard their virginity as a precious gift, despite the fact that he was having sex and even thought he had fathered a child while studying to be a priest. He has said "I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons". PEOPLE LIKE THIS WANT TO CONTROL OUR LIVES. I cannot stress enough how important it is for women to not rest on their laurels as if the war is over. If the recent election has taught us anything, it is that a segment of society will always be unhappy with the idea that women can control their own bodies, will want to define what rape is and isn't, will want women to face consequences for being sexually active, will want to murder people in the name of the 'sanctity of life', and will want to protect children until the moment they are born - after which they become a drain on taxpayers and a way for teenagers to coast by on welfare. I apologise if you do not agree with me. I would support a women who chooses not to have an abortion just as much as a women who does have one. But I want them to have the right to choose.

I'd like to finish with a quote from Dr. Wainer played during the credits of the film: "I trust and hope that instead of this sort of argument I am being presented with today, we will get to a constructive argument where all children who are born in Australia are wanted, loved, and grow up in economic security".


Perdita said...

This looks like a fascinating show, and a story familiar in many western nations. How strange a minority of people want to regress back to those days of illegal backstreet surgeons, and present themselves as the majority. Mind you, many of them flip flop endlessly, as their so-called moral convictions change with whoever they want to impress or get funds from.

Camelia Crinoline said...

Being another staunch pro-choicer I was so happy to see Obama re-elected too. It really wasn't that long ago that women from NZ had to fly to Australia to get abortions. While I think it unlikely that a prime minister or party that was trying to make abortion laws or contraception more restrictive would be elected here, it does still terrify me that when a new abortion clinic is opened that people try to threaten the staff and clients. This looks like an interesting movie. Sadly, you can only watch it if you're in Australia.

Vintage Christine said...

I'm always glad to hear comments on my country from people abroad on topics that are important to me, and this election was certainly one of them. I'm a liberal Democrat (I guess we're called "progressives" these days) but I am also pro-life. I'm pro-life about everything, though--abortion, death penalty, war--things that kill people. However, I also believe in a woman's right to choose and that her body is HER body. Believe me, I've gotten into some heated debates on Facebook with my liberal friends about all this! BTW, I'm sure you heard about the young American girl who was going to move to Australia because of their white male conservative president. I guess a lot of unhappy Republicans are threatening to invade your shores and I know they're not welcome any more than they're welcome in Canada or France or England or Spain or . . . pretty much anywhere. Those same people used to tell my generation in the 60's to "love it or leave it" because we were protesting against the Vietnam war. Payback is a wonderful thing!

Miss Emmi said...

Thanks for your comments everybody! Camelian, given that abortion was only made legal in Victoria in 2008 (technically - before it was allowed in cases of mother's health, but many doctors sidestepped that) and many liberals voted against that, I do worry about a regression in the near future.
Christine, I really respect your views and I think that you've struck the right balance - too many people who call themselves pro-life are really only pro-birth, and they stop supporting children the moment they are born, after which they are happy to deny them medical aid, food, ship them off to war or sentance them to death! I'll never understand how they can resolve that hypocrisy in their brains. I would much rather see those people working to remove the economic barriers to having children and increasing access to contraception rather than shaming people who often feel like they don't have any other choice.
I did read about the people threatening to come to Australia - pity for them our prime minister is an atheist female, we have free healthcare and the dole, and no guns!

Andi B. Goode said...

Damn, I missed this! And I hate watching things on my TV. Waiting for DVD then I guess? (I never watch TV anymore but I keep missing great things on ABC because of it. Sigh.)
This looks really interesting, though, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'm DEFINITELY pro-choice and want to punch anyone in the genitals who tries to control women and their bodies. (This is why I rarely join debates because I just get angry and keyboard smashy instead of articulate...)
And I've been laughing at the Americans wanting to come to Australia because Obama won. Hahaha.
-Andi x

Crazy Ravens Studio said...

Thank you for a terrific article, Miss Emmi. I thought it was just we Canadians that were keeping an eye on the American election. Some of the anti-choice laws being pushed through by the republicans are truly scary. I was born in the states and moved to Canada as an adult. I am mortified that my home state of Illinois has not ratified the ERA. We must be vigilant or the pro-birthers will change the laws.

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