Leslie Cannold: Writer, Commentator, Ethicist, Researcher
ARTICLES

The Australian Pro-Choice Movement and the Struggle for Legal Clarity, Liberal Laws and Liberal Access

The Extended Australian Report of the “The Johannesburg Initiative”

Full Report Australia, the Johannesburg Initiative, Unpublished November 2000

A condensed version of this report was published in (2001) “The Australian Pro-Choice Movement and the Struggle for Legal Clarity, Liberal Laws and Liberal Access: Two case studies in B. Klugman and D. Budlender (eds) Advocating for Abortion Access: Eleven country studies, The Johannesburg Initiative, School of Public Health, Women’s Health Project, University of Witwaterstrand. The Johannesburg Initiative

The Johannesburg Initiative is funded by the Government of the Netherlands and the Swedish Institute Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The Australian Reproductive Health Alliance (ARHA) and Children by Choice (C by C) funded the research for the Australian Case Study, a summary of which is published in Advocating for Abortion Access: Eleven Country Studies (Women’s Health Project, School of Public Health, University of Witerwatersrand, 2001). The Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics has funded the publication of the extended Australian Report.

The Johannesburg Initiative is the name given by participants to a three-phase international project of which the full title is “Capacity building for advocacy on expanding abortion policy and access: sharing of national experiences between countries from diverse regions.” Eighteen countries participated in the Capacity building project, which was initiated by South African activists after their achievement of liberal law reform in 1997. The aim was to compare and contrast the political and social contexts of countries with diverse abortion laws and access in order to draw generalisable conclusions about the social contexts and advocacy strategies that inhibit or facilitate change.

Phase one took place from December 1999 to June 2001, concluding with the publication of Advocating for Abortion Access in which case studies of abortion advocacy in eleven countries – including Australia – were described and a comparative analysis provided to assist activists to “learn from one anothers’ experiences”. [Klugman, 2001 #298]

The Purpose and Design of this Report

However, unavoidable limits on the length of the Australian contribution to Advocating for Abortion Access meant that important data and analysis was unable to be included. It was felt that this work may be of use to pro-choice advocates keen to understand and apply the 3 lessons learned by pro-choice advocates involved in the change processes in WA and the ACT in 1998.

We thus sought to produce a full report, tiered and organised by campaign stages, to enable activists to choose the level of detail they wished to read and to quickly access sections relevant to their current needs and interests. However, the report has also been designed to facilitate comparisons between WA and the ACT and thus encourage the building of the “mid- level” [Albury, 1989 #22] theory necessary to advance local understanding of what works and what doesn’t to achieve reform abortion law reform and enhanced access to services.

The author, ARHA and C by C are extremely grateful to the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE) for offering its assistance in publishing the full report. We stress, however, that responsibility for its contents fall to us alone.

Objectives of the Australian Report

  • To examine abortion policy, law and women’s access to abortion services prior to, during and (insofar as possible) after legislative change that took place in 1998 –1999 in two Australian States: Western Australian (WA) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT);
  • To identify or to provide the basis for identifying the key factors facilitating and constraining achievement and/or maintenance of liberal and/or clarified abortion law and/or policies;
  • To identify or to provide the basis for identifying the key factors facilitating and constraining achievement and/or maintenance of liberal access to abortion services in Australia;
  • To make suggestions based on this analysis, where possible, for future pro-choice advocacy strategies

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