As you’ve probably heard, there was a glorious victory for common sense in today’s – “today” in the sense of when it was given, but obviously not “today” in the sense of the law under which the case was prosecuted – abortion trial verdict:
A Cairns District Court jury took less than an hour to find Tegan Simone Leach, 21, and her partner Sergie Brennan not guilty of charges of procuring an abortion and supplying drugs to procure an abortion following a three-day trial.
We don’t have many of the formal human rights protections that people in other modern countries enjoy, so it’s a wonderful thing that juries are able to step in and save defendants from massively unjust results when the rest of the system fails.
Not that everyone agrees with that aspect of their role:
the Crown prosecutor sternly reminding the jury “you are not sitting in a court of morals”.
Prosecutor Michael Byrne, SC, told the jury he would be foolish to think the jurors did not hold personal views about abortion, but their job was to uphold the law and if they disagreed with it they should “make their views known at the ballot box”.
Yeah, ‘cos there’s been a recent referendum on abortion (and if there wasn’t, Ms Leach should’ve started a campaign for one before she dared make her decision), and because if the majority decided so, there’d be no problem with the state taking over a woman’s body.
Let’s all be thankful they rejected that submission. I wonder if even Mr Byrne is really all that regretful that they did, although his use of the term “lifestyle choice” makes me suspect, sadly, that perhaps he would.
If they’d returned a verdict of “guilty”, I wonder if Judge Everson would’ve had the power in Queensland to simply find the charges proven – and then dismiss them. If not, if that discretion does not exist in that jurisdiction, then that’s another reason to be thankful for juries.
But that’s not the only emotion many Australians, particularly women, will be feeling now – the other is anger. Anger that this young woman and her partner were put through these two years of hell in the first place. Anger that the law is still on the books; anger that the police investigated it and the prosecutors chose to pursue it; anger that the matter could not be struck out earlier. Let’s hope the law is changed urgently, and that in the meantime Queensland police and prosecutors recognise the futility of putting these charges before the courts. This must not happen again.
Relief and anger. Let’s make sure they don’t dissipate before they achieve a lasting change to this destructive Queensland law.
UPDATE: Check out the “lock this young woman up” side trying to pretend that they’re trying to protect women!
Keeping abortion in the criminal code she says, “Provides a thin veneer of protection for women who are being pressured into abortion and that would be gone if the pro-abortion lobby got their way.”
The only way to keep them safe is to put them on trial and send them to prison. Of course.
UPDATE #2: And John Birmingham eviscerates the Bligh government for its cowardice in the matter.