They faced prison time, because abortion is illegal in Queensland unless women jump through various stooopid hoops. This pair found a way around the hoops and were charged under Queensland's 1900 -- yes, 1900 -- abortion law.
Yesterday, they were acquitted of all charges. The jury took less than an hour to decide the case was totally idiotic. (More background at the top link, but basically the partner, Sergie Brennan, procured abortion drugs, Tegan Leach took them, they worked as intended, and that was it.)
Until the cops got involved. As I wondered at the time, how the hell did this private matter come to the attention of the authorities? It appears the cops interviewed them on an 'unrelated matter' -- which turned out to be a murder case. They noticed the blister pack that had contained the pills.
As John Birmingham points out in today's Sydney Morning Herald:
The thing is, those cops didn't have to do anything with that blister pack. Cops ignore stuff like that every day. Experienced, humane police officers know that not every law needs to be enforced in every instance, because they understand the consequences of putting someone into the system can be far worse than letting them off with a warning.
I guess Tegan and Sergie didn't get that someone like that.
But it doesn't end with the cops. A case like this was always going to be political. And now, after the relief of the verdict and the eruption of righteous anger set to follow, it will be even more politicised. Of course, the criminal justice system isn't supposed to be political, but we live in the real world. At any number of points before this reached court somebody, somewhere in the system, had the authority to pull the case. The state decides not to proceed with criminal cases for any number of reasons every day of the year.
Perhaps that's what Anna Bligh [Premier of Queensland] and her faux progressive and enlightened government were hoping would happen. That somebody, somewhere in the system, would just make this go away. That they wouldn't actually have to act on those brave and difficult feminist principles they've doubtlessly been yammering on about since the first formation of their political consciousness - and which we heard so much about when this proud, proud feminist was elected Premier.
Anna Bligh is an interesting, if unpopular, figure in Aussie politics. Raised Catholic, she considered becoming a nun. Now, though, she's a 'proud, proud feminist'.
She has an odd way of showing it. Just a couple of days ago, she blocked a private member's bill by one her Labour colleagues aimed at finally decriminalizing abortion in the state.
Ms Bligh told the MP that there wasn't enough support for such a bill.
Odd, that. The Australian Reproductive Health Alliance cites a survey of attitudes from 2003 that showed 81.2% of Australians, regardless of gender or religion, agree that "women should have the right to choose an abortion".'
Seems abortion politics in Australia are as nutty as anywhere else.
But at least the insane ordeal is over for Tegan and Sergie.