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".