• March 13, 2019
University of Auckland student, Melanie Duff, holds her hand-painted sign for the upcoming pro-choice protests. Credit: Sehej Khurana
At 13, Jo Elvidge marched down Queen Street for a protest chanting “not the church, not the state, woman shall decide their fate.
That was 1975.
Now 44 years later, Ms Elvidge paints a sign for the same cause – for women to have an abortion without stigma and for it to be removed from the Crimes Act.
Ms Elvidge, now a health advisor, says she remembers feeling empowered with how their voices echoed off the city’s buildings.
“I had such strong self-esteem about being female, it was a cool time to grow up. It’s different now,” she says.
She is one of several painting signs for an upcoming counter-protest led by Auckland Feminist Action (AFA).
Their protest is a counter to the 40 Days for Life campaign which takes place during Lent and involves pro-life vigils outside clinics.
This is AFA’s third year protesting, and group coordinator Katherine McAlpine said this time round is vital.
“With the potential for law change this year, it’s more important than any other year.”
Co-coordinator Caryn Tasker said more people turned up to paint signs than the year before, and she hopes more will join their protest.
Justice Minister Andrew Little is considering the alternate abortion law proposals made in a report by the Law Commission last October.
Ms McAlpine said she thinks public opinion is largely pro-choice, but many do not know abortion is still a part of the Crimes Act.
Ms Tasker said raising awareness of this is a focus as, “abortion should be a health issue, not a criminal one.”
Their protests are to be held over three Saturdays beginning Match 16, outside Auckland Medical Aid Centre on Dominion Road.