Thousands Sign Abortion Petition From Woman Sacked By Cricket Australia
"Is this Australia? Is this 2018?"
The woman fired by Cricket Australia (CA) for tweeting about abortion has started a petition calling for safe, affordable and legal access to the fundamental service.
Angela Williamson, 39, became one of the first Tasmanians forced to travel interstate for an abortion, after the last centre closed late last year.
She was forced to take a week off work and spent thousands on accessing the procedure, later tweeting her dismay at the government's lack of leadership in providing affordable access.
Cricket Australia fired her several months later, directly citing her tweets as the reason for her sacking. There are also allegations that CA was informed of her termination by a member of the Tasmanian government, which it has denied doing.
"I flew to Melbourne, alone and scared. I was away from my partner and kids and had to take a week off work, so the trip ended up costing me thousands. I wouldn’t have had to do this if abortion was accessible in Tasmania like it is every other state," she said in her petition.
"On my way home on the plane I was so upset I decided I couldn’t stay silent about this injustice. I took to Twitter -- on a personal account -- describing the turmoil I went through as a “disgrace”.
"Then, because I spoke up for women across Tasmania, Cricket Australia fired me.
"Is this Australia? Is this 2018?
"I’ve never felt so powerless --first I couldn’t access the healthcare I needed because the Tasmanian government made the procedure inaccessible, then I had Cricket Australia sack me because I spoke up for the women of Tasmania."
Williams is taking Cricket Australia to the Fair Work Commission. Her lawyer, Kamal Farouque, told The Project on Monday night that he believed it was a case of her employer taking things "much, much too far".
Williams wrote that she's waiving her privacy and speaking publicly because "nobody should have to go through what I went through to access a legal health procedure."
Within an hour of the petition launching on Monday night, it attracted more than 7,000 signatures. By Tuesday morning, that number had more than doubled to 15,000.
Although it's directed at the Tasmanian Liberal government, Williams writes that "this is not just a fight for Tasmanian women. This is a fight for women in Cairns forced to fly interstate and women right around Australia forced to spend hundreds of dollars they don't have on accessing a legal abortion."
Abortion is covered by state legislation, and therefore has varying levels of access across different state and territories.
While it is legal up to 16 weeks in Tasmania, the last dedicated abortion centre closed at the end of 2017, forcing women in an already vulnerable situation to spend hundreds of dollars flying to the mainland to access the procedure.
"It's time to ask why women are paying up to $500 for RU486 -- an abortion pill that costs less than $40 on the PBS," wrote Williams.
"And it's time that all women in Australia had access to safe, affordable pregnancy terminations and contraception."
Abortion is covered by patchwork legislation that differs by state and territory, and is still covered in the criminal code in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland -- although the last of those has taken steps to decriminalise .
RU486 -- also known as Mifepristone -- is an alternative to surgical abortion, and can be taken in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.
However, it is unavailable in South Australia or the ACT due to legislation forcing women to undergo an abortion in hospital.
A study conducted in 2015 found that "substantial" abortion costs -- on average $560 for a medical abortion, and $470 for a surgical one, both for pregnancies less than nine weeks -- caused women significant financial stress.
It also found costs "rose considerably" after 12 weeks, and that women who travelled more than four hours to access, had no prior knowledge of the medical option, had difficulty paying, or identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander were more likely to present at more than nine weeks, putting an even greater financial burden on vulnerable women.