In Armidale, New South Wales, situated about half way between Sydney and Brisbane, lives a little boy named Thomas Joyce.
He has tiny legs, not much hair, and probably gurgles sometimes as two month old babies tend to do.
And apparently he has something to do with my uterus. Yours too.
You see, this week Independent MP Alex Greenwich presented a bill to the NSW Parliament calling for the decriminalisation of terminations up to 22 weeks.
Greenwich argued that women and doctors are operating under an “out of date law” drafted 119 years ago.
Barnaby Joyce, the former deputy Prime Minister of Australia and MP, however, thought there was something missing from the debate. Namely, his two month old son, Thomas.
In politics you have to fight the hard fights not just easy ones. I believe the other side of this debate is not being heard and I have a duty to ventilate it.
This legislation must go to a committee so others can have the same right, to ventilate an alternate view. pic.twitter.com/2BQciRChth
— Barnaby Joyce (@Barnaby_Joyce) August 1, 2019
“On the first of June, Vikki’s and my son Tom took his first breath,” Joyce told parliament, which felt… unrelated. But he wasn’t finished.
“This was not the start of his life. The reality is he was part of this world for some time and was merely passing from one room to another.
“Inside the womb, Tom kicked, punched, grabbed his umbilical cord, felt pain, slept and dreamed – to say he didn’t have the rights of other human life is to say he must be sub-human,” Joyce said about his son, using him as a political plaything despite the fact Thomas doesn’t even know how to roll over yet.
“I don’t believe that any person, any doctor, any parliament has the power today to declassify another person as less than human and by so doing removing their most fundamental right to be alive.”
There appears to be some kind of misunderstanding.
No one – as far as I can tell – has said that little Thomas does not have the right to be alive.
He seems great. Cute, even. No one thinks Thomas is sub-human. He is fully human. So human, in fact, that he might even grow up to have his own personal views on abortion and not be entirely comfortable with being used to illustrate a pro-life argument, but I digress.
We all like human rights a lot. That’s a point we can agree on. So let’s imagine for a moment that little Thomas had been born little Tamara.
One day, when Tamara grows up she falls pregnant unexpectedly. Maybe she feels too young. Maybe she’s (actually) on the Newstart allowance and can hardly afford to feed herself. Maybe she doesn’t see a future for herself with children. Maybe the father has disappeared – which was never part of the deal. Maybe she can’t even put it into words properly, but she knows, for sure, that she cannot let the cluster of cells forming in her uterus turn into a little baby.