: Girlie Advocates for Choice

Girlie Advocates for Choice

Ada Vocate

Hanky Panky No Thank Ye

Mexico’s unsuccessful presidential candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota sounds like a most interesting woman. Not only was she game enough to stand for office in Mexico where drug-related murders are as common as cactus, she has also urged women to withhold ‘hanky panky’ from their partners for a month if they fail to vote in the elections on 1 July 2012 (The Age, 17 June 2012). Josefina is the first woman to represent a major party in Mexican presidential elections.


The Family Court of Australia has jurisdiction to grant an injunction to prevent the abortion of a foetus in circumstances arising out of the matrimonial relationship. In the case of Talbot v Norman [2012] FamCA 96, Murphy J decided the Court has no such jurisdiction if the couple never married. His Honour also approved previous decisions of the court that: fathers have no common law right to force the mother of their unborn child to have the child, and international covenants and supposed rights of the unborn child would fail as a foetus is not considered as having rights until it is born.

A little further north in the Michigan House of Representatives, two female pollies have been banned from using the words ‘vagina’ and ‘vasectomies’ during a debate on abortion (The Age 17 June 2012). The Bill, passed by 70 votes to 39, introduces rules and insurance requirements for abortion providers, making it an offence to force a woman to have an abortion and regulating the disposal of foetal remains. The Bill is part of other proposed legislation that has been described as the most hardline recent attempt at passing anti-abortion laws.

Nancy Keenan President of NARAL Pro-Choice America says she is having trouble engaging with young women. She told The Washington Post she was worried about an ‘intensity gap’ between 21–32 year olds who were pro-choice and the opponents of the same age who were more passionate about the issue of abortion.

Meanwhile Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan 
is very passionate about abortion which he describes as, 
‘a devious plan to remove this nation from the world stage’ (The Age, 28 May 2012). He was addressing the women’s unit of the governing Justice and Development Party. Not only does he oppose abortion which he describes as ‘murder’ he is also anti caesarean sections and wants laws to restrict them to situations that threaten the mother or baby — whatever that means!

Iso-bell’s Clanger?

Discrimination? Get over it says South Australian Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond. Speaking to a women’s leadership forum she said women facing sexual discrimination in the workforce should just ignore it and get on with their jobs. She later defended her comments on ABC Radio saying that her experiences as a young woman lawyer had taught her that legal action is rarely the best way to approach workplace discrimination. She also claimed that more had been done to achieve gender equality in the workplace by those who put up with discrimination.

Legal systems failing to protect Aboriginal Children

Legal and child protection systems are failing to protect Aboriginal children from rape and sexual abuse, and are adding to their psychological suffering. In her book Our Greatest Challenge, human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade calls for a new approach to stop exonerating Aboriginal men and empower communities to discipline perpetrators. McGlade says current legal and child protection systems are not protecting Aboriginal children who have been sexually abused and that, when the law is used as the primary response to child sexual assault, victims are left traumatised and further harmed by the legal process and discrimination in the court system. As a Noongar woman speaking against child sexual assault, McGlade has experienced ‘intimidation and abuse, alienation and marginalisation’. She has called for a national deputy commissioner for Aboriginal children.

Vale Children’s Champs

Australia lost two leading women magistrates recently. Former NSW magistrate Barbara Holborow, known as the ‘kids’ champion’ has died aged 81. Among her many achievements and battles were free legal aid for children, a care court specifically for cases of neglect and a separate jail for young offenders. She retired from the Court in 1994 but continued her advocacy for children. She believed that every child is the responsibility of everyone and that is how she lived her life. Barbara was named NSW Senior Australia of the Year for 2012.

Born in 1926, Margaret Elizabeth Hamer served as a magistrate in Victoria and also helped to relocate the Queen Victoria Hospital and Prince Henry’s Hospital to become the Monash Medical Centre. She graduated as an aeronautical engineer in 1948 and, according to Angas Hamer (The Age, 29 June 2012), ‘Her letters of the time reflect her rapier-sharp intellect as well as the persistence needed to deal with a parsimonious state treasury’. Other achievements in law include her membership of the committee of the Court Network which supports victim witnesses.

ADA VOCATE is a feminist lawyer.

(2012) 37(3) AltLJ 200
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