A Pro-Choice Politician Trying To Decriminalise Abortion Shares The Contents Of Her Inbox
"You will have to answer before God for your decisions."
The Queensland government is weeks away from introducing a bill to decriminalise abortion and the state's deputy premier Jackie Trad, who campaigned for the procedure to be removed from Queensland's criminal code, says she receives abusive emails, letters and tweets for being pro-choice "every single day".
"I have received hundreds of emails, hundreds of comments, there are Twitter accounts that are solely set up to tweet abuse at me, anti-choicers letter-boxed my entire electorate calling me the 'minister for abortion'," Trad told BuzzFeed News. "It seems like this is the price of being a publicly pro-choice woman in Australia — speaking up makes you a target."
We had a look inside Trad's inbox.
This "Queenslander, female and a grandmother" emailed Trad to accuse her of being "cruel, immoral and low" and question whether she should "hold any leadership position".
The email centres around an argument which has been pushed by anti-abortion politicians and campaigners in Queensland for the past two years.
"To even contemplate abortion to full term or any time during pregnancy for any reason will be a pure MURDEROUS HUMAN HOLOCAUST!!!," the emailer wrote.
According to the most recent figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 0.7% of abortions in Australia were carried out at or after 20 weeks. Most (94.6%) were performed before 13 weeks of gestation.
Nonetheless, arguments against decriminalisation have centred around the issue of abortions after the second and even third trimesters, arguing that the decriminalisation would somehow remove current protections for foetuses.
Anti-abortion group Cherish Life launched a raft of radio, newspaper and Facebook advertisements that claimed the laws would allow "abortion at ANY stage of pregnancy, for ANY reason" last year.
Termination service providers and gynaecologists have repeatedly told BuzzFeed News later term abortions are rare and only occur in complicated situations, usually where there is a devastating foetal diagnosis and maternal health complication.
Trad has said the legislation proposed by her government would allow pregnancies to be terminated in the first 22 weeks, after which a second doctor would have to approve the procedure.
This email also begins with the idea that Trad is seeking to "legitimise" not just terminations in the second but in the third (29 to 40 weeks) trimester.
"You will have to answer before God for your decisions," it reads.
In an initial parliamentary inquiry in 2016 into legislation that would decriminalise abortion in Queensland, witnesses from the state's health department said there were 120 terminations performed at or over 20 weeks gestation in 2015 statewide, and that the majority of abortions were performed before 22 weeks.
When asked about the "latest late-term abortion" to have occurred in the state, Queensland Health's Statewide Maternity and Neonatal Clinical Network chair, associate professor Dr Rebecca Kimble, said it tended to be at 22 weeks.
"But then we have had to have terminations – and we are talking really rare situations – where continuation of the pregnancy of an undiagnosed cardiac condition in the mother, for instance, may require termination of pregnancy beyond 22 weeks because continuation would kill the mother," Kimble said.
This grandfather of 10 asked Trad if she had "ever met anybody who was sorry they were not aborted" and said he was not part of a "vocal minority".
There are differing polls on Queenslanders' attitudes to abortion and whether it should be decriminalised.
Last year a poll of 1,200 Queenslanders commissioned by women's rights lobby Fair Agenda found that 82% agreed it should be legal for a woman, in consultation with a medical professional, to terminate her pregnancy.
The poll showed almost half of Queensland voters would be unwilling to support their preferred candidate at the then upcoming election if they wanted accessing an abortion to remain a criminal offence.
However, a poll commissioned by the Australian Family Association and anti-abortion group Abortion Rethink based in Queensland found 32% of respondents were less likely to vote for a pro-choice MP.
This email has been written from the point of view of a 22-week old foetus which might one day grow up to be a "famous pianist" or a "very fast runner".
This email features the seal designed by English potter Josiah Wedgwood in 1787 for Britain's anti-slavery campaign, depicting an African man kneeling in supplication under the slogan "Am I not a man and a brother?", a photograph of prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp, and an image of a foetus in the womb.
This emailer compared abortions to the slaughter of live sheep exports, as well as warfare and its subsequent casualties in the Middle East.
The individual accuses Australians of being more concerned with saving koalas, whales, cats, kangaroos and sharks than children.
This person believes abortion should not be decriminalised because some people are infertile and so women who want to terminate their pregnancies should continue them and adopt out their children.
This email is from a person who is anti-abortion but who has recently changed their mind about safe access zones, which were recently introduced in New South Wales, and are proposed in the Queensland legislation.
The 150-metre zone would ban protesters from approaching, harassing or intimidating women outside clinics where abortions are performed.
The emailer argues that sex selection abortion is occurring in Victoria and if Queensland takes the procedure out of it's criminal code the same would happen in that state.
Trad said it wasn't just constituents who were attacking her for wanting to legalise a medical procedure.
"I have personally been subjected to unbelievable abuse, including having a racist campaign led against me by a fellow MP who has accused me of being on a 'jihad'," she said.
Last week Cleveland MP and staunch anti-abortion advocate Mark Robinson called Trad "Jihad Jackie" and the government "the abortion party" for the proposed legislation.
"What kind of message does that send to women who are having to make these incredibly difficult choices?" Trad said.
The bill will be introduced later this month after which submissions will be open to Queenslanders. A number of public hearings will be held in communities around the state to canvas opinions before the parliamentary committee reports back in October.