National Abortion Campaign: A woman’s right to choose

c. 1975

Donated by Margaret Atkin

Museum of Australian Democracy collection

The National Abortion Campaign formed in the United Kingdom in 1975 to defend the 1967 Abortion Act against a number of Private Members’ Bills that threatened to restrict women’s abortion rights. The Act made abortion legal in the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland where abortion can be obtained only if the woman’s life is at risk and in some cases of foetal abnormality.

From the 1970s the abortion debate became polarised between two perceived extremes. The pro-choice campaign recognised the rights of women over their bodies, while the pro-life campaign mobilised around the rights of the unborn child.

In Australia, the grounds on which abortion is permitted varies from state to state. However, in all states abortion is legal to protect the life and health of the woman. In 2002 the Australian Capital Territory became the only Australian jurisdiction to legalise abortion in full when it passed the Crimes (Abolition of Abortion) Act 2002.

The donor of this badge, Margaret Atkin, writes:

A Woman’s Right to Choose badge was bought and worn quite a lot when there was a motion in Parliament to bring in tougher laws on abortion. I particularly remember the Stephen Lusher motion because I wrote to the local Liberal member David Connolly (a Catholic) praising him for voting against the draconian legislation which failed. [In 1979 Stephen Lusher proposed a motion in the House of Representatives to end Medicare funding for abortions, but was defeated 62 votes to 52.] I have worn this badge during more recent attempts to prevent women being in control of their bodies.