On a sweltering hot day, the 24th of November, 100s of Melburnians gathered to defend the Fertility Control Clinic in East Melbourne against the pro-life activists who regularly harass women and their partners using this clinic for termination of unwanted or medically risky pregnancies. This was the first action for the newly formed Melbourne Feminist Action collective, of which some Melbourne FACT members are a part, along with many other fine feminist organisers and political activists in Melbourne. After some inspiring speeches by Debbie Brennan of Campaign for Women’s Reproductive Rights (women are not incubators!), Colleen Hartland of the Greens (speaking on her own experience of using termination services), and Karen Pickering of Slutwalk and Cherchev la Femme (80% of the public support abortion rights, opponents of women’s right to choose are a small minority!), clinic defenders marched to City Square in celebration of the gains of the feminist movement in securing safe access to sexual and reproductive services in Victoria.

Thanks to good organisation, thoughtful social media health and safety promotion, and super-prepared activists on the day, there were no incidents needing first aid attention at the event. Nevertheless, Melbourne FACT street medics were prepared to help any one who needed it, we want rallies such as these to be empowering spaces and know sometimes that accidents and health-related incidents do happen. The only incident worth noting was a young pro-life activist who had fallen on the tram tracks in pursuit of Melbourne Feminist Action marchers, FACT appreciate the graciousness of this particular young woman requesting first aid and engaging in polite conversation about our opposing positions. It is my opinion that young people (particularly children) coerced into joining antagonistic pro-life actions deserve our sympathy, not our hatred. Indoctrination into neo-conservative religious and political cultures disempowers individuals, I feel it is better to offer kindness and demonstrate clearly there are realistic alternatives different to the ones they are taught by their institutions and patriarchs to fear.

My own personal experience of the Melbourne Feminist Collective and the rally to defend women’s right to choose has been a joyful one due my long-term involvement with this issue- I worked for Family Planning NZ as younger woman and was exposed to the multitude of reasons women and their families seek termination of pregnancy services. I’m proud of being able to help these people. To me, unplanned and/or unwanted pregnancy is a fact of life and women need to have access to unbiased services where they can be appropriately counselled on their choices. It is my hope that we can grow a feminist movement influential enough to extend family planning and safe clinical services to all women in Australia, irrespective of whether they can afford the services or not. Additionally, we can see from the example of the recent U.S. elections that candidate’s policies on women’s reproductive choices can make or break political careers. I call on supporters of women’s rights and family planning services to mobilise around this issue as one that can have major impact on the 2013 Federal elections in Australia, let’s oust neo-conservatism and sexism from Australian politics!

http://www.facebook.com/MelbFemAction            @MelbFemAction

http://www.facebook.com/CWRRMelbourne            @CRWWmelbourne


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Attend a protest with someone you know and stick with them all day … no matter what!

Look out for one another because:


• It’s safer (you’ve got each others back)

• You can share supplies

• You can assess each other’s mental state

• You can get a second opinion

• One Street Medic can interact with the casualty whilst the other interacts with the crowd

• You can debrief together after the action and learn how to do things better next time.

If you are split up make certain you have a back-up plan or a prearranged meeting place.


Tomorrow (Friday) evening, Melbourne FACT street medics will be meeting other activists at the State Library to protest Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza.

Though a tentative ceasefire has been announced, Israel’s actions form part of a 60+ year narrative of violence against and displacement of the Palestinian peoples. The most recent conflict, called “Operation Pillar of Defence” by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) began with the assassination of a senior member of Gaza’s Hamas-led government with a guided missile attack against his car. Were any other country to assassinate a senior member of another country’s government there would certainly be repercussions – especially if they were assassinated as a result of a missile being fired into another country. Yet this has not been the case with Israel and Australia’s Prime Minister Gillard even failed to acknowledge the assassination when officially responding to the violence in Gaza.

As Senator Doug Cameron alluded, Israel has a long history of terrorism against other countries in the region and has been accused of war crimes during the 2006 invasion of Lebanon (for the use of white phosphorus against civilians) and in the Operation Cast Lead ground invasion of Gaza in 2008 (when Israel was again accused of using white phosphorus and for using Palestinian children as human shields). Despite their aggressive history, Israel often plays itself as the victim and the current campaign has achieved some notoriety for hijacking the language of anti-state violence activism to promote war and violence against Palestine. The IDF and its supporters have also accused Hamas of using journalists and hospital patients as human shields during Israeli bombings, but this logic relies on an understanding that Hamas has deliberately put these people at risk: the journalists who were bombed by the IDF were working in media company buildings that are known to have offices for international media and that were declared key targets by the Israelis and bombed without warning to destroy the communication antennas on their rooftops. The accusation of using patients as human shields comes from Israel’s assertion that Hamas has taken to using the basement of Al-Shifa Hospital to avoid bombardment by the Israelis; given the considerable risk of guided missiles, I am not surprised by their choice of headquarters.

Though a ceasefire is now in place the threat of violence lingers and there are around 1,000 people who have been injured in attacks on Gaza in the last week. Al-Shifa hospital has suffered greatly as a result of the Israeli blockade of Gaza that has prevented medical supplies and pay for the hospital’s workforce reaching their destinations and this situation has only worsened during the recent conflict. This situation is replicated at other hospitals in Gaza and al-Awda hospital in Gaza’s north, which provides “all emergency, surgical, and maternity services” to a population that is 70% refugees lost its director after he too was killed by an Israeli missile attack.

To this end, a small number of our members have individually pledged to support assistance for medical aid in Gaza and recommend that anyone else interested in helping to ensure Gaza’s hospitals are able to provide best treatment donate through Medical Aid for Palestinians. MAP is a British charity but it has a good track-record of support for Gaza and has a better chance of ensuring donations make it past the Israeli blockade.

£5 pays for antibiotics.

£10 pays for medicine to treat sever blood loss.

£50 pays for 600 disposable syringes.

£85 pays for antiseptic to treat 30 patients who have suffered from burns.

£100 pays for a trauma care kit to treat one person who has a life threatening injury.

£1,100 pays a doctor for one month to work in Gaza.

£9,000 pays for all the supplies needed to run a burns unit for one month.

For more information about tomorrow’s rally, please click here.

If you would like more information about what’s happening in Gaza at the moment, you should follow @wgwau @Dr_Tad @antlowenstein @erinmcunningham and @pdanahar