These Women Say They Never Chanted "Put The Foetus In The Bin", Despite Anti-Abortion Politicians Repeatedly Saying They Did
"It just did not happen and it is defamatory to say it did," one woman told BuzzFeed News.
Protesters accused of chanting "we will fight, we will win, put the foetus in the bin!" at a rally in support of abortion decriminalisation say the claim, spread by the media and anti-abortion politicians, is "completely false" and "defamatory".
The footage was posted by anti-abortion student group LifeChoice Australia on Saturday after a Sydney rally to support a bill to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales.
The video was embedded in a story by SBS but was later removed and similarly captioned footage was run by 7 News.
The claims were repeated by former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce and by NSW MP Damien Tudehope at a counter-rally organised by religious and anti-abortion groups.
Joyce then repeated the claims on Monday telling Sunrise: "The pro-side is walking down the street saying 'we will fight, we will win, throw the foetus in the bin'. It just feels evil."
But women who were chanting in the footage say the videos were falsely captioned and are furious they have been misquoted by news outlets and politicians.
"The chant was 'we will fight, we will win, put the bigots in the bin'," Sydney woman Chloe Barron told BuzzFeed News.
The 22-year-old said the misquoted chant began once the rally was over.
"Following the rally everyone kind of dispersed and we heard people chanting," Barron said. "I wondered if it was some sort of impromptu march associated with the rally so I went across the road and realised there was a bit of a verbal altercation between a few pro-life people with three or four posters that said things like 'abortion is murder'."
The 'put the bigots in the bin' chant began after someone mentioned convicted paedophile cardinal George Pell and what Barron said was the "perceived hypocrisy" of the religious anti-abortion movement.
"The word foetus was not used," she said. "It never left my mouth and I didn't hear it once."
Barron said she did not expect to see the chant misrepresented by media outlets or politicians.
"I was just really upset that this had been misinterpreted because it cast a message that we didn’t want to send," she said.
"I even reached out to the [LifeChoice Australia Facebook page] and let them know that this is a form of defamation.
"It is not fair to the people who were present and it is not fair to the organisers of the rally who had nothing to do with the verbal altercation anyway."
Melanie Wright, 27, also says the chant she participated in has been misquoted. Her purple "pro-choice" umbrella can be seen in the footage.
"While the rally was wrapping up across the road there were anti-choice activists chanting and screaming and trying to antagonise us, and so people went over and tried to get them to move on but it was a peaceful demonstration," Wright told BuzzFeed News. "Most of the chants were just 'get your rosaries off our ovaries' and then as we were leaving and walking back to the rally site we chanted 'we will fight, we will win, put the bigots in the bin!'... no-one there was saying 'foetuses'."
Wright said the version of the chant spread by Joyce and Tudehope misrepresented why women were marching for reproductive rights.
"We were there because we are pro-choice and we want women to have autonomy over their own bodies and reproductive rights, and I don't think people who are pro-choice are pro-abortion, so saying 'foetuses' doesn't align with what we believe and the message we want to send," she said.
"We were there for a peaceful protest and how important this bill is for all of us moving forward, and for [LifeChoice Australia] to spread fake news and then for big media organisations and politicians to pick it up without doing any fact-checking whatsoever is so disheartening.
"I think Channel 7 and [LifeChoice Australia] are defaming us."
Trishima Mitra-Kahn said she was at the rally "from start to finish".
"There wasn't a march, but as I was leaving the rally there were three young women pro-lifers and then there was chanting," Mitra-Kahn told BuzzFeed News.
She said she heard chanting, including the word bigots, but not word foetus.
"I was really disappointed to see the events of the day distorted by some media outlets," she said. "The facts are that thousands of people gathered to uphold the dignity and the rights of women."
Tudehope said after “reviewing the Channel 7 footage” it appeared to him that some protesters were chanting “put the foetus in the bin”.
“Nevertheless, even if those protesters were chanting ‘put the bigots in the bin’ it is unacceptable,” he told BuzzFeed News. “To suggest violence of any type is completely out of step with the values of a civil democracy, and the threat, whether directed towards the unborn child or pro-life advocates must be condemned.”
BuzzFeed News has approached Joyce and 7 News for comment.
The decriminalisation bill, co-sponsored by 15 MPs from across the political spectrum, attracted more than a dozen controversial proposed amendments in the lower house — where it passed in early August — and is likely to face many more in the upper house this month.