... we would not be free:
There are certain things that, in a free and democratic society, are simply not up for debate. Racial equality is one of those things, hence why we crack down hard on anyone attempting to spread racial hatred. Vaccines are another one of those things, hence why we’re now passing laws to ban anyone from spreading anti-vaccine lies. A woman’s uterus is also not up for debate. By opposing a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, one is essentially saying that women are not equal to men and thus do not have human rights. How is this any different than racism? Why is this something that should be legally permissible?
Not only is the right to have an abortion a human right, but so is the right to accurate information. The arguments used by the anti-choice crowd are wrong, misleading, and dangerous. We wouldn’t allow people to spread lies about vaccines, so why should we allow people to spread lies about abortion? We wouldn’t allow people to vilify ethnic minorities, so why should we allow people to vilify women who have abortions? When people are allowed to manipulate public opinion against the common good, the results can more dangerous than anyone could possibly imagine. There is a reason that Australia bans hate speech and has strict media regulations: when the masses are exposed to hateful or un-democratic ideas, it can lead not only to things like the Cronulla race riots, but also to things like the Holocaust. In the words of the great human rights activist Tim Soutphommasane of the Australian Human Rights Commission, “genocide begins with words.”
Women who have abortions already tend to face depression and even suicide. Vilification from right-wing Christians increases the depression already faced by said women, and also increases their suicide rate tremendously, in the same way that the vilification of transgender people plays a major role in their high suicide rate. Freedom of speech is a core Australian value, but it’s not the only value that we have. Like all democratic rights, the right to freedom of speech comes with significant responsibility, and it has to be balanced against other rights. People also have the right to be free from lies, hatred, vilification, offense, misleading information, and insults, to name a few things. In a society based on human rights – which, despite everything, I strongly believe that Australia still is – there is absolutely no place for anyone who attempts to argue against human rights. Freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to oppose human rights. People who oppose human rights have absolutely no place in a human rights-based liberal democracy like Australia.
I speak for all Australians when I say that, in Australia, it is just common sense that freedom of speech doesn’t give anyone the right to offend, insult, humiliate, intimidate, vilify, incite hatred or violence, be impolite or uncivil, disrespect, oppose human rights, spread lies or misinformation, argue against the common good, or promote ideas which have no place in society. The idea that women should not be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies is, without a doubt, an idea that has no place in society. Freedom of speech exists so that people can have civil, polite, and reasonable discussions about issues that are worth discussing – NOT so that people can argue against the common good and/or denigrate the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society. Australia has absolutely nothing to learn from the anti-choice crowd. Tolerating their intolerance would not only be needless, but it would also be harmful and dangerous. Freedom of speech is counter-productive if it’s something that only benefits white men, who already wield the most disproportionate amounts of power and privilege in society. The voices of vulnerable and marginalised groups – for example, women (and especially women of colour) seeking abortions – are drowned out by the voices of rich and powerful white men. It’s time to change that.
The hope is that this is satire. That's the hope.