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    This 80-Year-Old Who Had A Backyard Abortion In The 50s Is Disappointed Her State Hasn't Decriminalised The Procedure

    "What the bloody hell is wrong with them?"

    Helen* is angry that not a single member of the NSW Coalition government today voted in favour of legislation to remove abortion from the state's Crimes Act.


    "What the bloody hell is wrong with them?" the 80-year-old asked BuzzFeed News. "It is not a political party matter.

    "Abortion is something that is always going to happen, despite the best of intentions, so it should be something that can be dealt with in the correct way and legally."

    Gina Rushton

    This afternoon a bill introduced by Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi was voted down 25-14.

    The legislation would have enacted safe access zones around clinics and hospitals where abortions are performed, and required doctors who conscientiously object to abortion to refer a patient to another doctor who doesn't.

    "I think it is so disappointing that we're now on our own with Queensland," Helen said, referring to the failure of a similar push to decriminalise abortion in the Sunshine State in March.

    Helen has spent the last five decades in Australia but was born in England, where she fell pregnant aged 22 in 1959.

    "I went to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy," she said. "He wouldn't help me with where to get an abortion, but said I could come back after if something went wrong."

    She knew she did not want to continue the pregnancy.

    "It was something that had to be done as far as I was concerned, so it was an easy decision."

    Helen found an address through a friend of a friend.

    "The woman who [terminated the pregnancy] had just served time in prison and it was a pretty bloody awful abortion; it was a backstreet, backyard one," she said. "I only told one person at work."

    Helen is happy that abortion is more easily accessible now – "The 1950s were a time when even to obtain contraception a woman had to go with her fiancée and swear that they'd get married" – but is hoping for the day when all criminality is removed from the procedure.

    "Other countries have realised it is a medical procedure," she said.

    *Helen's name has been changed to protect her privacy.

    Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Gina Rushton at

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