As some of you may know, earlier this year I moved to the United States for an adventure. Before moving here, I kept myself informed about the social climate and news in the US. As a Communications and Media Studies graduate, and someone who spent a lot of time browsing social media, how could I not? I knew that America had a lot of problems regarding racial inequality, gender inequality, a huge wealth gap, an underdeveloped environmental consciousness, etc. But nothing compares to seeing it with your own eyes. Seeing the shiny 5th Avenue and the homeless people living along the east river, the bins filled with takeaway coffee cups, and sense of discomfort walking down the street alone as a woman. It was easy for me to feel disdain for this country and a pride for New Zealand. But after the Christchurch Terrorist Attack, this naïve national pride ebbed.
Although I am proud of how New Zealand has responded to this terrible even that took 51 lives, white supremacy had been going unchecked for far too long and we shouldn’t have needed a sacrifice as great as this to see it. We have seen the United States, how they have responded to terrorist attacks, if they even acknowledge a white man killer a group of POC as a terrorist. We have seen how poorly they handled gun control. We have seen their lack of accountability in the face of these events. We did well in the face of the tragedy, but now in the face of this new Alabama abortion law I am truly worried, especially about New Zealand. What extreme event in New Zealand will shake us from our comfort next?
The new Alabama law deems performing or receiving an abortion, even in cases of incest or rape, a felony. In the United States, a felony denies the recipient the right to vote. Although less extreme, in New Zealand, under the Crimes Act 1961 abortion is considered a crime. If you needed or wanted an abortion, you would need the approval of two different doctors. Such a deeply personal decision would not actually be yours, it would be ultimately be theirs.
It is easy to look at the United States and all their issues and feel good about our own nation. But We should see the US as a mirror, not as something to laugh at or make ourselves feel good. We should question our own humanity and our own flaws, rather than use the United States as a vain attempt to mask or minimise our own discrepancies.
This is a call to action. We must use this event as tool for reflection and make some changes. Sign the petition.