Abortion Counselling Service - ACS - Collection - NJSN_AC-017 1969 - 1996Series: SERIES LIST: Series 1: Minutes 1973-1988. Series 2: Constitution and amendments 1980-1981. Series 3: Application for incorporation 1980-1981. Series 4: Annual Reports 1980-1981. Series 5: Correspondence 1973-1996. Series 6: Grant applications 1974 –1990. Series 7: Tender for Pregnancy Information and Counselling Service 1995. Series 8: Submissions 1975-1979. Series 9: Surveys 1971-1977. Series 10: Working paper, 1973-1980. Series 11: Health Department review of abortion counselling and pregnancy support services in the ACT. Series 12: Reports 1972-1977. Series 13: Conference papers and conferences 1971-1986. Series 14: Workshops 1972-1981. Series 15: Speeches 1973-1975. Series 17: Working Papers 1973-1980. Series 18: Information sheets for counsellors. Series 19: Training course for counsellors 1975. Series 20: Petitions c1979. Series 21: Press Statements 1973-1982. Series 22: Publications 1969-1979. Series 23: Newsletters 1973 -1981. Series 24: Papers on Abortion 1970 –1980. Series 25: Letterheads, cards, c1975. Series 26: Circulars 1973 – 1989. Series 27: Press Clippings 1973 –1982. Series 28: Scrapbooks ca 1975. Series 29: Photographs, postcards and stickers, ca 1973 -1994. Description: 1.08 linear metres A4 sized Manila folders 6 x (H)25cm x (W)18cm x (D)40cm 1.08 linear metres 1.08 linear metresSubject(s): Production credits:
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|Item type||Current library||Call number||Status||Date due||Barcode|
|Archives - Collection||Jessie Street National Women's Library Archives||Compartment 1/Bay 1/Shelf 2/Position 1 - Compartment 1/Bay 1/Shelf 3/Position 1 (Browse shelf(Opens below))||Available for reference in the library|
ORANISATION OF COLLECTION:
Box 1: Series 1-6; Files 1-10;
Box 2: Series 6-12; Files 11-20;
Box 3: Series 13-15; Files 21-27;
Box 4: Series 16-21; Files 28-36;
Box 5: Series 21-22; Files 37-44;
Box 6: Series 23-28; Files 45-59.
Series 1: Minutes 1973-1988.
Contains minutes of the Abortion Counselling Service. Some are on loose-leaf paper; others are contained in an exercise book. They are hand written and typed. They date from 1975 to 1988. Many appear to be missing.
File 1 Minutes, 1973-1988;
Series 2: Constitution and amendments 1980-1981.
Contains records relating to the constitution and amendments made to it.
File 2 Constitution and amendments, 1980-1988;
Series 3: Application for incorporation 1980-1981.
Contains a series of documents pertaining to the application for incorporation of the Abortion Counselling Service.
File 3 Application for incorporation of Abortion Counselling Services, 1980-1981;
Series 4: Annual Reports 1980-1981.
Includes Abortion Counselling Service 1980 and 1981 annual reports.
File 4 Annual reports, 1980-1981;
Series 5: Correspondence 1973-1996.
Contains copies of letters sent and letters received. Many are to or from members of parliament regarding issues concerning the establishment of an abortion counselling service in the ACT. Scattered through the letters received is also correspondence regarding funding.
File 5 Correspondence, letters received – MP's and officials, 1973-1981;
File 6 Correspondence, letters received, 1973-1981;
File 7 Correspondence, copies of letters sent, 1973-1984;
File 8 Correspondence re grants, 1982-1996;
Series 6: Grant applications 1974 –1990.
This series contains records regarding application for grants from Community Development Funding and the Community Employment Program. It also includes submissions.
File 9 Grant applications: Community development funding, 1974-1979;
File 10 Grant applications: Community development funding, 1981-1982.
File 11 Grant applications: Community development funding, 1983-1985;
File 12 Grant applications: Community employment program, 1984-1985;
File 13 Grant applications: Community development funding, 1986-1987;
File 14 Grant applications: Community development funding, 1989-1990.
Series 7: Tender for Pregnancy Information and Counselling Service 1995.
This contains a joint tender made by the Canberra Women’s Health Centre Inc. and Abortion Counselling Service Inc for Pregnancy Information and Counselling Service.
File 15 Tender for pregnancy information and Counselling Service, 1995;
Series 8: Submissions 1975-1979.
The series contains submissions from ACS and other organisations such as Preterm, Population Services International WEL, Status of Women Inquiry, and Beatrice Faust on issues concerning women and abortion. It contains submissions from the Abortion Counselling Service made to The legislative assembly on the need for abortion facilities in the ACT undated. Submission to the Minister for the Capital Territory that the termination of Pregnancy (Temporary Provisions) Ordinance 1977 should lapse 10-5-78.
File 16 Submission to Minister of Health and others, 1965-1979;
Series 9: Surveys 1971-1977.
This series contains survey reporting results in relation to the availability of abortion services in the ACT during the period of 1971 – 1977. Reports are typewritten on A4 and foolscap paper and held within manila folder.
File 17 ACS surveys, 1975-1977;
Series 10: Working paper, 1973-1980.
This series contains a working paper outlining various aspects of the case supporting an early term abortion clinic in the ACT. The paper is typewritten on A4 pages and is undated, although can reasonably be estimated to be within the time frame of 1980.
File 18 Working paper on early term abortion clinic in the ACT, c1980;
Series 11: Health Department review of abortion counselling and pregnancy support services in the ACT. The report is typewritten on A4 pages and is dated March 1995.
File 19 Review Department of Health, 1995;
Series 12: Reports 1972-1977.
This series includes reports pertaining to women’s health, abortion and sex education. Reports include published material, conference papers, committee findings and individual research findings produced during the 1970's. Generally material is typewritten on A4 and foolscap individual sheets as well as published booklets.
File 20 Reports, 1972-1977.
Series 13: Conference papers and conferences 1971-1986.
This series includes papers given at women’s conferences between 1971 and 1986. There are numerous papers from the 1986 Liberation or Loss National Conference on the new reproductive technologies and their impact on women. Leaflets and handouts from women’s conferences are included in this series.
File 21 Discussion paper: Funding Australia Assistance Plan, 1973;
File 22 Discussion paper: Child Destruction Law in the ACT, Human Rights Commission, 1982;
File 23 Discussion papers: Mental health, Corrective Services, ACT, 1975-1976;
File 24 ACS conference papers and other organisations' conferences, 1971-1978;
File 25 Conference papers, “Liberation or Loss?”, 1986;
Series 14: Workshops 1972-1981.
This series comprises papers relating to workshops conducted by various feminist and other groups. Diverse subjects include home birth, feminine health care, conception, sexuality, abortion counselling and manhood. This material is generally typescript on loose leafed A4 and foolscap sheets.
File 26 Workshops, 1972-1981;
Series 15: Speeches 1973-1975.
This series includes speeches given by women at various functions on topics concerning abortion and women’s issues. They include a speech given by Elizabeth Reid at the World Conference Of International Women’s Year 1975 and a speech given by Anne Yuille on International Women’s Day 10 March 1991. A speech by Mr. JR Martyr, MP from parliamentary debates on abortion is included.
File 27 Speeches, 1973-1975.
Series 16: Working Papers 1973-1980.
This series comprises the working papers used by the ACS. There is a membership list; names of doctors sympathetic to ideas of abortion; papers used in lobbying politicians. Notes used when applying for grants. Among these papers are abortion statistics.
File 28 Working papers, 1973-1980;
File 29 Working papers, Abortion statistics, 1973-1979;
Series 17: Information sheets for counsellors.
The series Includes information sheets prepared for counsellors working for the ACS. These documents are undated.
File 30 Information sheets for counsellors;
Series 18: Training course for counsellors 1975.
This series consists of notes by Cecily Parker on counselling; a copy of a training course for abortion counsellors prepared by Robin Blessing social worker Civic Health Centre, Childers Street, Canberra. ACT. It also contains details of a National Abortion Action Coalition programme for the training of counsellors.
File 31 Training course for counsellors, 1973-1977;
Series 19: Petitions c1979.
Includes petition initiated by Bessie Smythe Clinic and an unidentified petition that possibly could be from the ACS.
File 32 Petition: Bessie Smythe Clinic, c1979;
Series 20: Press Statements 1973-1982.
This series includes a number of press releases focusing on abortion and women’s issues from the ACS, Senator Susan Ryan, the Anti-Festival of Light, Right to Choose. A news release from Elizabeth Reid at the World Conference Of International Women’s Year is included.
File 33 Press statements, 1973-1982;
Series 21: Publications 1969-1979.
This series includes numerous publications on abortion, contraception, and crisis intervention. It includes four volumes of the Lane Report to the committee on the working of the abortion act, and associated papers. Hansard proofs related to issues of abortion and abortion clinics; extracts from parliamentary papers concerned with abortion are included as well as some issues of feminist journals such as Right to Choose 1975-1985.
File 34 Publication: Leichhardt Women's Health Centre, Women's Health and Survival Kit and papers, 1973;
File 35 Publications, journals: Right to Choose, 1975-1984;
File 36 Publications: Lane Report, 1975.
File 37 Publications: ACT Legislative Assembly, Hansard, 1976-1977;
File 38A Publications: Abortion, 1974-1979;
File 38B Publications: Abortion;
File 38C Publications: Journals, Abortion;
File 39 Publications: Contraception, 1973-1979;
File 40 Publications: Crisis intervention, 1969-1975;
File 41 Publications: Parliament, 1977-1980;
File 42 Publications: Women's health, 1971-78;
Series 22: Newsletters 1973 -1981.
This series comprises newsletters from an assortment of feminist organisations. One newsletter included arises from minutes of ACS meeting 23/1/75. Newsletters from the Canberra Homebirth Association, WONAAC, Family Planning Information Service, Health Services, Consumers Association of the ACT, Humanist Society, Right to Life and others are in the series.
File 43 Newsletter, January 1975;
File 44 Newsletters: other organisations, 1973-1981.
Series 23: Papers on Abortion 1970 –1980.
These papers include a articles relating to abortion, abortion counselling, abortion laws in ACT and Australia, histories of ACS, house of assembly debate, sex education in schools, status of the child, women’s health and contraception, legal memorandum of advice.
File 45 Papers: Abortion, 1970-1980;
File 46 Papers: Abortion counselling, c1973;
File 47 Papers: Abortion laws in ACT and Australia, 1973-1980;
File 48 Papers: Histories of ACS, 1973-1980;
File 49 Papers: House of Assembly debate, 1977;
File 50 Papers: Sex education in schools, c1975;
File 51 Papers: Status of children, 1975;
File 52 Papers: Women's health and contraception, c1973;
File 53 Papers: Legal memorandum of advice, 1973;
Series 24: Letterheads/ cards, c1975.
Consists of an assortment of cards, with compliment slips and one letterhead, which are examples of the stationery used by ACS.
File 54 Letterheads, cards, c1975;
Series 25: Circulars 1973 – 1989.
This series consists of a number of circulars produced by ACS, Bessie Smythe Foundation, Women’s Abortion Action Campaign, Population Services International, Preterm, Family Planning Association and a number of feminist organisations involved the campaign for legalised abortion and freestanding clinics.
File 55 Circulars, c1973;
File 56 Circulars, other organisations, 1970-1989;
Series 26: Press Clippings 1973 –1982.
This series comprises a selection of press clippings relating to issues relevant to ACS and woman’s issues. Most have been photocopied onto archival paper. They have been arranged in chronological order. [The originals are in Box 0002 LAP].
File 57 Press clippings, 1973-1982;
Series 27: Scrapbooks ca 1975.
This series comprises an assortment of press cuttings, which have been glued into two foolscap scrapbooks. The cuttings are sourced and dated and are related to women’s issues, particularly abortion.
File 58 Scrap books, c1975;
Series 28: Photographs/ postcards and stickers, ca 1973 -1994.
This series includes seven black and white photographs measuring 9 cm x12 cm and one measuring 12.5 cm x 20 cm. All are unidentified, but appear to be taken outside old Parliament House featuring the women’s embassy. Included in this series are two postcards with pro-choice messages and three stickers from the ACT Abortion Counselling Service.
File 59 Photograph, post cards and stickers, undated 1994.
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On 10 May 1973, two Victorian Australian Labor Party members of the House of Representatives, Messrs Lamb (La Trobe) & McKenzie (Diamond Valley) moved a Private Member's Bill to legalise abortion in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The bill, drafted with the help of feminists, was defeated in Federal Parliament, leaving abortion an illegal act in the ACT. [Stephania Siedlecky & Diana Wyndham: 'Populate or Perish', Allen & Unwin Australia Pty. Ltd,1990, p.92]. Three weeks later in June 1973 women members of all Abortion Law Reform groups met in Canberra at the Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (WAAC) Conference. It was decided that, wherever possible, abortion facilities would be established in each capital city in Australia to cater to the requirements of all women. Where abortion was illegal efforts would be made to change the law. Counselling and referral services would be established in the interim.
A group of Canberra women volunteers, drawn from Women’s Liberation (WL) and Women’s Electoral Lobby Association (WEL) established the Abortion Counselling Service (ACS). The ACS opened its doors on 10 September 1973, at Women’s House, Bremer Street, Griffith ACT [Canberra Times, 11/9/1973]. The first meeting was held on 24 September 1973 [ACS Minutes, 24/3/1973].
At the time of Federation in 1900 the ACT inherited the New South Wales (NSW) Crimes Act in which abortion was a criminal act. It provided heavy penalties for women and whoever helped them to induce an unlawful abortion. The word unlawful is not clearly defined by statutory law.
Generally unconditional abortion is not freely available anywhere in Australia. Lawful abortion is treated differently in most states and territories. The ACT and Northern Territory (NT) ordinances incorporate NSW and (pre-reform) South Australian laws respectively. The ACT Crimes Act of 1900 does not fully define the offence of abortion. However, references to decisions on cases to ascertain the meaning of “unlawful” were used to define the meaning.
In the landmark case of R. v Davidson (1969) V.R.667 heard by Mr. Justice Menhennitt of the Supreme Court of Victoria, the ruling was that an abortion was legal if a doctor honestly believed in good faith that continuation of the pregnancy would constitute a grave risk to the physical or mental health of the woman. Thus Mr. Justice Menhennitt defined the criteria of the “lawfulness” of abortion in Victorian common law. The ruling was considered most authoritative and was widely accepted by legal commentators although not strictly binding on the Supreme Court of the ACT [Tessa Libesman & Vani Sripaty (Eds) 'Your Body, Your Baby', Redfern Legal Centre Publishing Centre, 1966, p.31].
The decision R. v. Davidson (1969) appeared to represent the law in the ACT at the time. Judge Levine of the District Court decided that the woman’s mental and physical condition should be taken into consideration when assessing grounds for an abortion. The Court of NSW clarified the ruling further stating that economic, social and medical factors should be considered. This ruling was viewed as an extension of the Menhennitt ruling. In the ACT a judge of the Supreme Court who did not view such an extension of the law as acceptable would not be obliged to follow that decision. Nevertheless, it would appear that although a doctor could be prosecuted for performing an abortion, the precedents set by Justice Menhennitt (1969) and Judge Levine (1971) would offer protection from conviction [op. cit. 'Populate or Perish', p.93].
The Hospital Termination Committee was created in October 1970 in Canberra on the recommendation of the Standing Committee. It comprised a psychiatrist, a gynaecologist, and another doctor who could approve abortions, which were performed at two ACT public hospitals [Abortion Counselling Service, 'Notes about the ACS', February 1975, p.1]. Under this system very few abortions were approved. Many ACT general practitioners saw the committee as “totally ineffective” and chose to refer patients requiring abortions to either Sydney or Melbourne.
The aims of the ACS were:
* To counsel women who were ambivalent about their pregnancies;
* To give them alternative solutions to their dilemma and if required refer them to available services, such as medical specialists, Department of Health, Parents without Partners, Single Mothers' Association;
* To refer them to Family Planning stressing the importance of prevention of unwanted pregnancies;
* To keep detailed records and statistics in order to research unwanted pregnancies in Australia.
Volunteer counsellors attended the first counselling course conducted by ACS once a week for eight weeks. Two professional counsellors taught the course: one from the ACT Department of Mental Health, Psychiatric Services and the other from Canberra Marriage Guidance Council.
In February 1975 when the lease expired at Bremer Street, Griffith ACT an accommodation crisis arose. As the group was a member of the Canberra Council of Social Services (CCOSS), Director, Julia Hayes came to the rescue and found temporary premises for them at Beauchamp House, headquarters of CCOSS [Margaret Hicks, unpublished paper given a t the WAAC Conference June 15-16 1975p.4].
The ACS client base had trebled with the change of address. With the new accommodation came added respectability as well as access to services situated in the same building. Family Planning ACT, Emergency Housekeeping Services, Single Mother’s Association, Legal Aid, and the Adoption social workers were situated down the hall. The Catholic Community Welfare Association contested ACS right to use Beauchamp House. They claimed that it was illegal for a government department to give assistance to ACS against the findings of parliament, that is the defeat of the 1973 Bill.
Gordon Byrant, Minister of the Capital Territory, initiated a proposal whereby women’s groups were encouraged to come together to share accommodation. Women’s Liberation, Women’s Electoral Lobby and the Abortion Counselling Service, incorporated as Women’s House applied for a Community agency grant. In June 1975 a grant from the ACT Health Commission enabled the Women’s House group to rent a government house at 3 Lobelia Street, O’Connor. It provided accommodation for WEL, ACS, the Rape Crisis Centre, WAAC, and Abortion Law Reform Repeal Association (ALRA). A committee of women volunteers managed this [Beryl Henderson unpublished paper 'For the Humanists' 24/4/74 pp 1&2]. The Royal Commission on Human Relations (RCHR) of August 1974 headed by Justice Elizabeth Evatt as chairperson inquired into many issues concerning human relationships including pregnancy termination.
It suggested that abortion if performed by a qualified medical doctor could be legally available up to the 22-week gestation period of pregnancy. The extension of facilities at community health centres private clinics and hospitals were recommended.
A committee of concerned citizens was formed in November 1975 to inquire into the possibility of establishing an abortion clinic in the ACT. It comprised a medical practitioner, a public servant medical officer, a social worker, a demographer, a solicitor, a psychologist, and representatives from both the Family Planning Association and the Women’s Movement (probably Beryl Henderson). All members of the group were uneasy about the undesirable “profit motive” so frequently associated with abortion. After lengthy discussions with abortion clinics in Sydney the committee decided to establish an autonomous Pre-term Clinic. The committee headed by Ronda Hatch applied for incorporation. The Registrar of Companies refused incorporation stating that it “was not in the public interest”. The committee believed pressure from Right to Life (an anti-abortionist group) had been applied.
In February 1977 Doctor Geoffrey Davis of Population International Services International (Australasia) Limited (PSI) announced he was about employ staff for a clinic in Phillip ACT. The Abortion Counselling Service had raised $20,000 locally by personal guarantee and had $10,000 guaranteed by from the Pre-term Foundation. Also the Pre-term Foundation of Sydney had offered to do all the training of personnel. ACS had done cost studies, which showed that the market could not support two clinics in the ACT. The committee thought that the risk was too great to compete with PSI.
Right to Life, although a minority group, once again applied pressure to the government. The Legislative Assembly of the ACT very quickly passed the Termination of Pregnancy (temporary Provisions) Bill 1977 which banned abortion outside of the two public ACT hospitals for three months [Standing Committee on Education and Health Report No. 26 Pregnancy Termination, Australian Legislative Assembly]. This gave the government time to examine the issue of abortion in the ACT [Minutes of Proceedings, Monday 21 March 1977 p.518 as cited in Standing Committee On Education And Health Report: Number 26, Pregnancy Termination, Australian Legislative Assembly, p.1]. The Standing Committee On Education And Health Report, Number 26, Pregnancy Termination, recommended separate clinics in hospital grounds, which perform abortions up to eleven weeks.
Compulsory counselling was advised at least one week before the termination. The Act only allowed abortions to be performed in hospitals of the Capital Territory Health Commission. Referral and approval continued as before [Standing Committee On Education And Health Report Number 26 Pregnancy Termination, Australian Legislative Assembly].
When this Act was repealed in 1992 freestanding abortion clinics were made possible in the ACT. At present (2000) services for the termination of pregnancy are available outside the public health system. In August 1994 Family Planning ACT opened a freestanding clinic. Until then most women from the ACT requiring abortions travelled to NSW or Victoria. A limited number of procedures are performed in the public health care system [Children by Choice Association Inc. Information Sheet 9/02/2000: www.powerup.com.auobyc/infoaust.html].
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