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“We are profoundly disappointed”: Supporters livid as White Ribbon withdraws support for reproductive rights

Ambassadors and supporters are “profoundly disappointed” over White Ribbon’s decision to withdraw its support for reproductive rights, just a day after Queensland legalised abortion

Ambassadors and supporters of White Ribbon Australia have come out against the leading domestic violence foundation for its controversial decision to backflip on its stance on reproductive rights, just a day after Queensland legalised abortion.

White Ribbon Australia has withdrawn a February 2017 statement that stated “all women should have complete control over their reproductive and sexual health” over claims the organisation is now “agnostic” in its approach to the social issue.

The recently appointed CEO, Tracey McLeod Howe, said the statement was withdrawn over fears it had taken a political stance that would exclude stakeholders.

“We are a movement of 16,000 volunteers and over 1,000 ambassadors and our job is about ending male violence against women and we took a political position without asking one [of the volunteers or ambassadors] about it and I come from bodies where you consult with your stakeholders about their priority issues,” McLeod Howe told Buzzfeed News.

In response, hundreds of ambassadors and supporters have rejected White Ribbon’s new approach, with many withdrawing future support until it has been overturned.

Former Sydney Swans-turned-feminist activist, Luke Ablett, joined these voices, posting on Twitter: “I won’t be speaking at any @WhiteRibbonAust events, officially sanctioned or otherwise, until this changes.”

CEO of Marie Stopes Australia, Michelle Thompson, also withdrew her support: “We are profoundly disappointed and have now cut ties with White Ribbon.”

In a statement, Marie Stopes Australia said the decision sends a “dangerous message” to the community “and ignores the growing evidence of strong links between reproductive coercion, family violence, intimate partner violence and sexual violence”.

In its withdrawn statement, which came during a previous push for decriminalising abortion, White Ribbon committed their support to reproductive rights and included research that found unplanned pregnancies are common among women experiencing domestic violence. It added that pregnancy is a trigger for future violence.

“We are opposed to all forms of control, violence and abuse,” the withdrawn statement read, adding that it was wrong to deny a woman the choice for an abortion.

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