opinion

These men are what allies look like: Brad Hazzard, Alex Greenwich and the NSW abortion bill.

We’re quietly confident today.

After two weeks of impassioned, sometimes toxic, debate the New South Wales bill to decriminalise abortion has passed the state’s lower house.

Is abortion legal in Australia? Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

The bill was passed just before 11pm last night with 59 in favour and 31 against.

We have those 59 people to thank for pushing our country’s most populous state (and only state yet to decriminalise abortion) closer to the rest of the country when it comes to abortion law.

And there are two men who have been invaluable allies to the women who have fought so long for the legal right to choose.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich and New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard have been integral in getting this bill to parliament, and integral in reminding us that the “Barnabys” of the world might be loud and proud and all up in our uteruses but there are white, male politicians in positions of power who are on our side.

Yes, there is some irony in the fact that it’s been two middle-class men who’ve enacted change.

We’ve had thousands of women share the hashtag #arrestus showing the power of unity in numbers.

We had Greens MP Jenny Leong share her abortion experience as a 20-year-old backpacker in front of a room full of colleagues.

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Member for Newtown Jenny Leong talks about the abortion she had as a 20-year-old backpacker. AAP Image/Joel Carrett.
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We regularly share the rawness and the necessity behind the abortions undertaken by Australian women on platforms like Mamamia.

The NSW Pro-Choice Alliance, led by the Women's Electoral Lobby has campaigned tirelessly to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act.

It's overwhelmingly women who have rallied outside NSW Parliament in support of the new legislation.

As Mehreen Faruqi put it: "If these historic reforms pass, it will be thanks to the endless campaigning of our mothers, our grandmothers, feminists, pro-choice activists, campaigners, groups and organisations that have been pushing for this reform for decades. We owe them so much."

And it is.

Today, we can also celebrate the work of our allies.

In July, Alex and Brad stood side by side at a joint press conference and announced a historic move.

They'd gathered 15 MPs from across the political divide who were willing to co-sponsor a bill to decriminalise abortion, an act that's never been done in the New South Wales lower house.

The men proposed that the legislation would excise abortion from the state's 119-year-old criminal code and create a standalone healthcare act to regulate the procedure.

Brad-and-Alex
Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Independent MP Alex Greenwich have been integral in getting the abortion bill through the lower house. Image: AAP.
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The bill would allow abortion on request for women up to 22 weeks' gestation performed by a registered doctor. After 22 weeks women would need the consent of two doctors.

Mr Greenwich reiterated on the floor of parliament, that a woman's decision to end a pregnancy was a health matter, not a criminal one, meaning the existing framework was simply inappropriate.

He also apologised to the women of New South Wales that this hadn't been done sooner.

“We have an opportunity to right the wrong enacted into law 119 years ago," added Mr Hazzard.

“A law that was active when this place had legislators who were all men.

“A law that came into place 25 years before the first feminist [Millicent Preston Stanley] came into this place,” he admitted.

These men get it.

Alex Greenwich has long been a campaigner for change in this country, he's a strong ally of the LGBTI community and was one of the key leaders who was successful in getting the YES campaign for Australian marriage equality across the line.

He himself is a gay man, and over the years he's been cut down and criticised and hated while standing up for what he believes in, and he's doing it again now - for a woman's right to an abortion.

In 2013, he introduced legislation to parliament to end discrimination of gay students and teachers in independent schools.

He's also been lobbying the government for action on climate change, asking the New South Wales Premier to develop a 10-year-plan for coal mining communities if the government is "serious about saving the world from catastrophic climate change," as quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.

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The New Zealand-born, Grammar school educated former recruitment agency owner has only been in politics since 2012, but he's fierce and he's fighting for change.

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Protests have been raging over the abortion law for two weeks. Image: AAP.

Brad Hazzard has been a part of the Liberal Party since 1991.

He's worn many hats: Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, Minister Assisting the Premier, Attorney General of NSW, Ministers of Justice, Family and Community Services and Social Housing.

Just this month he threw himself behind another important cause when he put the potential for a ban on gay conversion therapy on the national agenda.

Both of these men have come under fire; for certain opinions, comments, policies... the lot. But today we're focusing on their support for women's rights.

Alex Greenwich and Brad Hazzard and the 15 other MPs who co-signed that bill are part of the reason New South Wales can be sure that things are changing.

Yes, we've still got the upper house to conquer but it's a relief that we've got this far. We've all had a prickling in the back of our necks holding our breath in fear of failure.

Because until that bill is passed, we only need to look at America to know what can happen to a woman's right to choose.

Nine states in the US in 2019 have voted to restrict or abolish abortion laws, and lately its felt more and more like we've been going backwards instead of forwards, and that's terrifying.

Tags: abortion , new-south-wales , news-stories , opinion
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