The following statement has been sent this morning to NSW State MLCs regarding sex selection amendments to the Reproductive Health Care Bill 2019 which will be debated in the coming hours.
The organisations behind the statement include: Arab Council Australia; Asian Women at Work Inc; Democracy in Colour; Domestic Violence NSW; Harmony Alliance: Migrant and Refugee Women for Change; NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS).
Joint statement from migrant and women’s organisations on sex selection amendments to Reproductive Healthcare Bill.
As organisations, services and professionals working with diverse, migrant and refugee women and communities we write to jointly express our concern and opposition to the proposed amendment to the Reproductive Health Care Bill 2019 to ban sex-selective abortion.
The amendment risks introducing racial profiling and amplifying discrimination in our healthcare system as women will be targeted based on their ethnic origin. The introduction of these amendments has been divisive to our community; to stigmatise and racially profile specific communities is dangerous and could lead to racial vilification. This type of language and behaviour can impact on community wellbeing and inclusion.
This is compounded by the fact that the amendment requires doctors to interrogate women about the reasons for needing abortion care, requiring them to disclose what may be complex, distressing and difficult circumstances, and this could further stigmatise marginalised communities.
The amendment will likely weaken the trust women from migrant and refugee backgrounds have in our healthcare system and have the potentially catastrophic result of women choosing not to access healthcare when they need to.
The World Health Organisation and the United Nations have found that imposing restrictions or prohibitions on access to health services like abortion for sex-selective reasons is likely to have harmful impacts on women, and may put their health and life in jeopardy.
There is no evidence to suggest that sex selective terminations occur in Australia; the amendment only serves to target women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, who already deal with significant stigma around reproductive health and experience poorer health access. Rather, the major factors associated with termination include whether women are experiencing sexual, domestic and family violence including reproductive coercion, have experienced childhood sexual abuse or used contraception methods which failed.
These are the real-life reasons behind abortion that indicate why it is vital that women have access to all healthcare options.
The serious issue of women’s access to abortion, and access for marginalised groups like migrant women in particular, should not be used as a political football, as it currently is in the debate on the Bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW.
We call for a respectful debate and urge strong opposition to the proposed amendment of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 to ban sex-selective abortion.
Arab Council Australia
Asian Women at Work Inc
Democracy in Colour
Domestic Violence NSW
Harmony Alliance: Migrant and Refugee Women for Change
NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS)
Maria Dimopoulos, chair of Harmony Alliance 0408 419 312
Neha Madhok Democracy in Colour 0424 595 626
Melanie Fernandez NCOSS 0402334286