Tag Archives: says

Gosport scandal exposes blame culture in NHS, says Hunt

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has suggested that the hundreds of deaths at Gosport War Memorial hospital could have been prevented if whistleblowers had been encouraged to come forward in the NHS.

He said the scandal exposed a blame culture across the health service that made medical staff reluctant to raise the alarm about mistakes.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The basic problem is that if you are a doctor or a nurse and you see something going wrong … the thing that families want, if they are bereaved or have a tragedy, is to know that the NHS isn’t going to make that mistake again.

“We make it much too hard for doctors and nurses to do that. They are worried that there will be litigation, they will go up in front of the GMC [General Medical Council], or the NMC [Nursing and Midwifery Council].”

He added: “In some places they are worried they might get fired. So we do have to tackle that blame culture and turn that into a learning culture.”

A report revealed that more than 450 people had their lives shortened after being prescribed powerful painkillers at the Hampshire hospital.

Hunt’s comments follow a warning by Prof Sir Brian Jarman, head of the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London, that situations similar to Gosport were likely to be happening elsewhere.

He told Today: “At the moment, whistleblowers are fired, gagged and blacklisted. Nobody dare whistleblow in the NHS.”

Hunt acknowledged that Jarman was a “pioneer” who raised the alarm about high death rates ahead of the Mid Staffordshire scandal, but said he was being “a little unfair” on this occasion. He insisted that NHS culture was changing.

“I do think we are making some progress,” Hunt said. “The terrible thing about Gosport was that it was 20 years after the families first raised concerns that we were able to publish this report. I am confident that sort of time period wouldn’t happen now. We would be on the case much more quickly.”

He added: “It wasn’t just what appears to be the actions of one doctor. There was systematic failure at every level of the institutions of the British state. And so we have to learn every possible lesson.”

The Gosport inquiry, led by the former bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, found that whistleblowers and families were ignored as they attempted to raise concerns about the administration of opioids at the hospital.

Nursing staff first raised concerns nearly 30 years ago but their fears were “silenced” by management, it revealed.

Following the release of the report, relatives of elderly patients who died at the hospital branded the findings “chilling” and called for criminal prosecutions to be brought.

Police have suggested that criminal charges could be brought following the revelations.

Hampshire’s chief constable, Olivia Pinkney, said the Gosport Independent Panel had access to information the force had not previously seen. “It is important that a process is put in place to ensure that all of the relevant agencies come together, to enable decisions about next steps to be made in a way that is well considered and transparent to all of the families,” she said.

Gosport scandal exposes blame culture in NHS, says Hunt

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has suggested that the hundreds of deaths at Gosport War Memorial hospital could have been prevented if whistleblowers had been encouraged to come forward in the NHS.

He said the scandal exposed a blame culture across the health service that made medical staff reluctant to raise the alarm about mistakes.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The basic problem is that if you are a doctor or a nurse and you see something going wrong … the thing that families want, if they are bereaved or have a tragedy, is to know that the NHS isn’t going to make that mistake again.

“We make it much too hard for doctors and nurses to do that. They are worried that there will be litigation, they will go up in front of the GMC [General Medical Council], or the NMC [Nursing and Midwifery Council].”

He added: “In some places they are worried they might get fired. So we do have to tackle that blame culture and turn that into a learning culture.”

A report revealed that more than 450 people had their lives shortened after being prescribed powerful painkillers at the Hampshire hospital.

Hunt’s comments follow a warning by Prof Sir Brian Jarman, head of the Dr Foster Unit at Imperial College London, that situations similar to Gosport were likely to be happening elsewhere.

He told Today: “At the moment, whistleblowers are fired, gagged and blacklisted. Nobody dare whistleblow in the NHS.”

Hunt acknowledged that Jarman was a “pioneer” who raised the alarm about high death rates ahead of the Mid Staffordshire scandal, but said he was being “a little unfair” on this occasion. He insisted that NHS culture was changing.

“I do think we are making some progress,” Hunt said. “The terrible thing about Gosport was that it was 20 years after the families first raised concerns that we were able to publish this report. I am confident that sort of time period wouldn’t happen now. We would be on the case much more quickly.”

He added: “It wasn’t just what appears to be the actions of one doctor. There was systematic failure at every level of the institutions of the British state. And so we have to learn every possible lesson.”

The Gosport inquiry, led by the former bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, found that whistleblowers and families were ignored as they attempted to raise concerns about the administration of opioids at the hospital.

Nursing staff first raised concerns nearly 30 years ago but their fears were “silenced” by management, it revealed.

Following the release of the report, relatives of elderly patients who died at the hospital branded the findings “chilling” and called for criminal prosecutions to be brought.

Police have suggested that criminal charges could be brought following the revelations.

Hampshire’s chief constable, Olivia Pinkney, said the Gosport Independent Panel had access to information the force had not previously seen. “It is important that a process is put in place to ensure that all of the relevant agencies come together, to enable decisions about next steps to be made in a way that is well considered and transparent to all of the families,” she said.

Animal antibiotics: Calm down about your chicken, says big pharma

A Facebook ad entitled “How to survive as a working mom” depicts a stressed woman with a baby on her lap and a phone under one ear. “Breathe,” the advert says. “Pour a glass of wine (if that’s your thing). Prepare your family the chicken. Whether the label says ‘no antibiotics’ or not, the meat and milk you buy is free of harmful residues from antibiotics.”

The Enough Movement – the “global community” behind this advert – promises to tell you the truth about food. But it’s a PR campaign funded by Elanco, a multinational animal drugs company that sells antibiotics for use on livestock. Elanco operates in more than 70 countries and in 2015 accounted for 13% of the veterinary pharmaceuticals market. A subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company, last year it was valued at $ 14bn-$ 16bn (£10.5bn-£12bn).


They’re trying to brush us off like we’re hysterical women who need a pat on the head and a glass of wine to calm down.

Sarah Sorscher, Center for Science in the Public Interest

Elanco, along with other organisations with vested interests, is using slick advertising campaigns to downplay consumer concerns over giving antibiotics to animals, a joint investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found. Critics say agricultural and pharmaceutical organisations are using similar tactics to steer the debate about antibiotic use on farm animals as those employed by tobacco and oil companies during public health debates about smoking and climate change.

Mothers are clearly the target for many of the Enough Movement’s adverts. Some – such as one titled “Eat. Sleep. Mom. Repeat” – make no reference to antibiotics or agriculture at all. Another from its Twitter feed reads: “Making mom friends can be difficult. Making food decisions doesn’t have to be. Whether the label says “no antibiotics” or not, the meat or milk you buy is free of harmful residues from antibiotics.”

These adverts – just a handful of the many posted on social media by the Enough Movement – refer to Food Safety Inspection Service testing, which makes sure the meat on supermarket shelves has no more than trace amounts of antibiotic. But many scientists are more concerned about the rise of antimicrobial resistance – where bugs don’t respond to medicine – than about antibiotic residues. The heavy use of antibiotics on farms is believed to be a major contributor to this problem, seen as one of the most dangerous public health issues of our time. The Enough Movement potentially confuses consumers, who are increasingly looking for antibiotic-free meat, by shifting the debate from resistance to residues.

An advert for the Enough Movement


An advert for the Enough Movement. Photograph: Enough Movement

Sarah Sorscher, Deputy Director of Regulatory Affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest said: “Ads like this are patronising. Industry should be looking for ways to address valid consumer concerns. Instead, they’re trying to brush us off like we’re a bunch of hysterical women who just need a pat on the head and a good glass of wine to calm down.”

Besides the Elanco adverts’ tendency for being “grossly sexist”, says Dr Thomas Van Boeckel – an epidemiologist specialising in antimicrobial resistance – they are also “a classic strategy to divert the debate about residues rather than focusing on the core issue, which is the selection for resistant bacteria in the live animals due to the constant exposure to those drugs on the farm”.

Scientists believe that using antibiotics on farm animals is one of the major causes of the growth of antimicrobial resistance. Any resistant bacteria that has thrived across a large herd of animals in close quarters can potentially spread from farms and infect humans through food, contact with farm workers or in soil and fertiliser. Drug resistance has been dubbed one of the greatest public health threats the world faces. It is estimated to kill 700,000 people worldwide, a figure that will rise to 10 million by 2050 if no action is taken.

Ferd Hoefner, a senior strategic advisor at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, believes the way industry has responded to calls to reduce the amount of antibiotics in agriculture is strikingly similar to techniques adopted in the smoking and climate change fields: “PR companies … are just constantly raising doubts. They’ve turned that kind of thing into an art form.”

Prof Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the US-based Center for Disease Dynamics Economics and Policy, agrees: “It’s not surprising. It’s pretty standard. In the case of tobacco the industry played down the effects of smoking – ‘a few cigarettes won’t hurt you’. They tried to appeal to women by making smoking Virginia Slims a sign of the feminist movement.

“The truth is that companies like Elanco are likely to face significant financial hardship given that many of the world’s consumers will no longer want to buy meat raised on antibiotics.”

Enough Movement advertising creted by Elanco


Epidemiologist Dr Thomas Van Boeckel says adverts like these are a classic strategy to divert the debate. Photograph: Enough Movement

In a 2016 report commissioned by the British government, former economist Lord Jim O’Neill found that out of 139 academic studies – excluding those funded by industry or government bodies – 72% supported evidence of a link between antibiotic consumption in animals and resistance in humans. Only 5% argued that there was no link.

Of the studies compiled by Lord O’Neill, the most recent academic paper to find no link was written by a student at a Hawaiian high school in 2005. Out of four industry-funded papers identified by the review, two didn’t support evidence that banning agricultural antibiotic use would have an effect on the level of resistance in humans.

Even so, one of those industry-funded papers said stricter regulation of newer antibiotics in agriculture could potentially extend their effectiveness in humans. The authors of the study – which was funded by Pfizer, one of the world’s biggest drug companies, and published in 2002 – suggested that recently discovered antibiotics should be used prudently on farms before resistance emerges. But they argue that controlling the use of antibiotics in agriculture after resistance has already emerged will have little impact on the number of superbugs in hospitals.

The Elanco-funded Enough Movement reads like a humanitarian report, offering “practical solutions” on ensuring there is enough food for everyone as the population grows. The ‘movement’, which includes a report, a website and social media adverts, promotes modern farming procedures that could ensure a steady supply of meat and dairy. The campaign’s Facebook page has more than 20,000 followers and Elanco claims its messaging gains 1 million impressions online per week.

In response to the Bureau’s findings, Elanco said: “The Enough Movement works to bring awareness to food security and answer consumer questions about how food is produced. Recent labelling initiatives have increased consumer questions about antibiotic use in animals. And we have a responsibility to answer those concerns, especially when it comes to the safety of the food we eat.”

Sanderson Farms, the third largest poultry producer in the US, launched a similar campaign to Elanco in 2016 as its CEO called meat labelled as “antibiotic-free” as “misleading”. In one TV advert, a man in a supermarket, dressed in a plaid shirt, khakis and a cap, says: “Some chicken companies try to get you to spend more money by using labels like ‘raised without antibiotics’. At Sanderson Farms, we don’t believe in gimmicks like that. No antibiotics to worry about here.” Last month, a report by the investors’ group Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return ranked Sanderson Farms among the worst companies for its policies on antibiotic use in animals.

Enough Movement advertising creted by Elanco


The Enough Movement said: ‘Recent labelling initiatives have increased consumer questions about antibiotic use in animals.’ Photograph: Enough Movement

Sanderson Farms did not respond to a request for comment, but a statement on its website says it is “committed to taking steps toward finding alternative ways to control disease to reduce antibiotic use, and to work with its drug suppliers to phase out the use of antibiotics that are important to human medicine when alternatives become available”.

Although the majority of the scientific community accepts antibiotic use on farms is a genuine threat to human health, the true scale of the problem remains unknown. And this gap in knowledge has proved fertile ground for the agricultural and pharmaceutical industry to suggest the threat may be at most minimal.

Not only are companies targeting consumers with adverts, the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries are also pumping money into scientific research on antibiotic resistance. Some of these studies either play down the potential risk to human health from antibiotic use in farm animals or support claims that more research is needed before policy decisions are made.

Elanco has indirectly funded studies that point to the need for more research on the link between antibiotic use on farms and resistant infections in humans. Along with other major pharmaceutical companies, including Bayer Animal Health and Boehringer Ingelheim, it is one of 13 members of the Animal Health Institute (AHI), which has funded this work. Eight out of the 13 AHI members listed on its website sell antibiotics for use in farm animals. AHI also spent almost $ 700,000 on lobbying between 2013 and 2017, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

A number of companies have fervently opposed stricter regulations arguing that, without antibiotics, not only will animal welfare be compromised but food prices will go up. Until 2017 antibiotics were widely used as growth promoters on US farms, helping livestock grow fatter more quickly. When farm animals are sick it is sometimes necessary to give them antibiotics. But US farmers are still allowed to routinely give them to healthy animals to prevent disease, a practice many believe can often take place as a way of dealing with overcrowding and poor hygiene. This so-called “prophylactic use” of antibiotics is currently being scrutinised in the EU, with stricter regulations under consideration.

Enough Movement advertising creted by Elanco


Photograph: Enough Movement

Dr James Rogers, director of Food Safety Research and Testing at Consumer Reports and a former FSIS employee, said: “There is intense pushback because we are talking about an economic effect, that if they were not allowed to use antibiotics, especially for growth promotion, you’re going to get fewer pounds per chicken, which means less money.”

In November the US Department of Agriculture rejected further restrictions recommended by the World Health Organization. The guidelines proposed a ban on giving healthy animals antibiotics important for human medicine. The USDA acting chief scientist, Dr Chavonda Jacobs-Young said they were “not in alignment with US policy and not supported by sound science”. Hoefner, who is a regular attendee at the monthly meetings between industry representatives and USDA officials, described her comment as “outrageous” given the weight of knowledge behind the WHO guidelines.

Last year agribusiness organisations, including all livestock, crop and tobacco industries, spent more than $ 131m on lobbying in the US, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Critics say industry is perceived to have been able to tighten its grip on the USDA during the Trump administration, especially on the issue of antibiotic use. Hoefner said: “We were making some inroads in the last administration here in the US, but even then it was difficult. We weren’t making huge strides but we were making some strides. But now it’s totally impossible so we’ll just have to wait this out.”

But Prof Laxminarayan is more hopeful. Referring to Elanco’s Enough Movement, he says: “I see all of this as the last cries before it goes down,” he said. “It will still have a role in animal health, but the days of pushing antibiotics in livestock for growth promotion, their widespread use on farms to prevent disease, are soon to be over.”

Who says no to safety? Only those who want a bully pulpit on our footpaths | Van Badham

I knew the other side were cooked when yesterday’s tweets appeared. “Say NO to #safeaccesszones!” isn’t the kind of messaging that wins you popular support. Even if the public has no idea what or where your zone is, “safety” isn’t something anyone likes to say no to.

Denial, however, was the theme of the whole “say NO” campaign – the “access zones” in question are the 150m radii around clinics and doctors’ offices in NSW providing reproductive health and pregnancy termination services. Denying women the opportunity to seek medical care without their personal harassment, bullying and intimidation has been the whole act of the anti-abortion “sidewalk counsellors”. These were the “say NOers” desperately trying to stop the passage of legislation debated in New South Wales parliamentary yesterday drafted to criminalise their outrageous behaviour.

What kind of behaviour? A healthcare worker attending a demonstration in support of the legislation pleaded for the harassment of herself and her staff to stop, picking out an anti-abortionist counterprotestor who’s repeatedly chanted at her that she’s going to hell. They hand out plastic foetuses, photograph clinic patients, bellow that every stage of human fertilisation is a “baby” and get in the faces of anyone seeking treatment for anything from a yeast infection to endometriosis in attempts to guilt and shame anyone who might be receiving a medical termination.

A personal acquaintance described her reduction to tears outside outside a clinic where she was berated with accusations she was a child murderer. She was attending to receive fertility treatment – she’d been struggling to conceive for some time.

As elsewhere – ahem, Ireland! – feminist activism has so thoroughly spoken its fairness values to the reproductive lives of Australians. Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have already imposed the safe access zones; the new status quo is now one where in NSW it was not merely left-Labor feminist MP Penny Sharpe putting her name to the legislation as a private members’ bill. Its co-sponsor was MP Trevor Khan, from the rural-based, conservative National party.

“This is not a left/right issue” Khan told the gathering of feminist, libertarian, rural, trade union, health worker and Indigenous demonstrators who gathered in solidarity yesterday, about an issue that once upon a time most certainly was.

Safety, privacy, respect and dignity are concepts with powerful loyalty across the ideological spectrum – no more or less in NSW country towns like Albury, where the harassment of women seeking reproductive health services represents the ugliest invasion of privacy in an already small community. The Nationals and Labor again teamed up to back the bill in the lower house. Not even the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce could sever an alliance so firmly grounded in the moral, although not for the lack of trying.

So fiercely has this particular moral frame been affirmed around these issues that the NOers were reduced to affixing themselves with fauxminist sloganeering as if fresh pink icing could obscure the rotten buns of old attempts at shame, control and woman-hating. “We Support Women” they declare, as if the community standards of fairness and safety could bend in their direction merely with the addition of fresh faces and sweet platitudes. These are, of course, importations of American tactics of dissembling, and ineffective here. “Sidewalk counsellors” somewhat betrays the inauthentic identity of the local movement – in Australia, folks, we call them footpaths.

And it’s with the affirmation of our local values, the popular support, and the extraordinary coalition that provokes the immediate political question in the legislation’s wake. The conservatives allowed themselves a conscience vote on the legislation and the “no” side was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 61-18. The minister for women, Tanya Davies, and minister for family and community services and former sex discrimination minister, Pru Goward, found themselves on the losing side. Their perceived betrayal on free speech grounds has outraged those demanding their right to safety and privacy.

To oppose a bipartisan majority is politically dangerous. To do so against the interests of your direct constituency resembles abject folly. Or plain spite. “Their vote was out of step with community expectations, and also ignored the calls of organisations that work with the women they’re supposed to be representing,” said a spokesperson for safe access campaigners, Fair Agenda, with lethal courteousness.

It’s unlikely that their ambitions will be the only fatality of these events. After the safe access zones decision, and Ireland’s extraordinary rebuff of old body-control politics, abortion remaining as an artefact of the criminal code in both NSW and Queensland is under impending threat. The sidewalk counsellors denied their bully pulpits on our footpaths, the only remaining denial may indeed just be those few politicians as yet unbending to the power of the obvious popular tide.

Who says no to safety? Only those who want a bully pulpit on our footpaths | Van Badham

I knew the other side were cooked when yesterday’s tweets appeared. “Say NO to #safeaccesszones!” isn’t the kind of messaging that wins you popular support. Even if the public has no idea what or where your zone is, “safety” isn’t something anyone likes to say no to.

Denial, however, was the theme of the whole “say NO” campaign – the “access zones” in question are the 150m radii around clinics and doctors’ offices in NSW providing reproductive health and pregnancy termination services. Denying women the opportunity to seek medical care without their personal harassment, bullying and intimidation has been the whole act of the anti-abortion “sidewalk counsellors”. These were the “say NOers” desperately trying to stop the passage of legislation debated in New South Wales parliamentary yesterday drafted to criminalise their outrageous behaviour.

What kind of behaviour? A healthcare worker attending a demonstration in support of the legislation pleaded for the harassment of herself and her staff to stop, picking out an anti-abortionist counterprotestor who’s repeatedly chanted at her that she’s going to hell. They hand out plastic foetuses, photograph clinic patients, bellow that every stage of human fertilisation is a “baby” and get in the faces of anyone seeking treatment for anything from a yeast infection to endometriosis in attempts to guilt and shame anyone who might be receiving a medical termination.

A personal acquaintance described her reduction to tears outside outside a clinic where she was berated with accusations she was a child murderer. She was attending to receive fertility treatment – she’d been struggling to conceive for some time.

As elsewhere – ahem, Ireland! – feminist activism has so thoroughly spoken its fairness values to the reproductive lives of Australians. Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have already imposed the safe access zones; the new status quo is now one where in NSW it was not merely left-Labor feminist MP Penny Sharpe putting her name to the legislation as a private members’ bill. Its co-sponsor was MP Trevor Khan, from the rural-based, conservative National party.

“This is not a left/right issue” Khan told the gathering of feminist, libertarian, rural, trade union, health worker and Indigenous demonstrators who gathered in solidarity yesterday, about an issue that once upon a time most certainly was.

Safety, privacy, respect and dignity are concepts with powerful loyalty across the ideological spectrum – no more or less in NSW country towns like Albury, where the harassment of women seeking reproductive health services represents the ugliest invasion of privacy in an already small community. The Nationals and Labor again teamed up to back the bill in the lower house. Not even the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce could sever an alliance so firmly grounded in the moral, although not for the lack of trying.

So fiercely has this particular moral frame been affirmed around these issues that the NOers were reduced to affixing themselves with fauxminist sloganeering as if fresh pink icing could obscure the rotten buns of old attempts at shame, control and woman-hating. “We Support Women” they declare, as if the community standards of fairness and safety could bend in their direction merely with the addition of fresh faces and sweet platitudes. These are, of course, importations of American tactics of dissembling, and ineffective here. “Sidewalk counsellors” somewhat betrays the inauthentic identity of the local movement – in Australia, folks, we call them footpaths.

And it’s with the affirmation of our local values, the popular support, and the extraordinary coalition that provokes the immediate political question in the legislation’s wake. The conservatives allowed themselves a conscience vote on the legislation and the “no” side was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 61-18. The minister for women, Tanya Davies, and minister for family and community services and former sex discrimination minister, Pru Goward, found themselves on the losing side. Their perceived betrayal on free speech grounds has outraged those demanding their right to safety and privacy.

To oppose a bipartisan majority is politically dangerous. To do so against the interests of your direct constituency resembles abject folly. Or plain spite. “Their vote was out of step with community expectations, and also ignored the calls of organisations that work with the women they’re supposed to be representing,” said a spokesperson for safe access campaigners, Fair Agenda, with lethal courteousness.

It’s unlikely that their ambitions will be the only fatality of these events. After the safe access zones decision, and Ireland’s extraordinary rebuff of old body-control politics, abortion remaining as an artefact of the criminal code in both NSW and Queensland is under impending threat. The sidewalk counsellors denied their bully pulpits on our footpaths, the only remaining denial may indeed just be those few politicians as yet unbending to the power of the obvious popular tide.

Who says no to safety? Only those who want a bully pulpit on our footpaths | Van Badham

I knew the other side were cooked when yesterday’s tweets appeared. “Say NO to #safeaccesszones!” isn’t the kind of messaging that wins you popular support. Even if the public has no idea what or where your zone is, “safety” isn’t something anyone likes to say no to.

Denial, however, was the theme of the whole “say NO” campaign – the “access zones” in question are the 150m radii around clinics and doctors’ offices in NSW providing reproductive health and pregnancy termination services. Denying women the opportunity to seek medical care without their personal harassment, bullying and intimidation has been the whole act of the anti-abortion “sidewalk counsellors”. These were the “say NOers” desperately trying to stop the passage of legislation debated in New South Wales parliamentary yesterday drafted to criminalise their outrageous behaviour.

What kind of behaviour? A healthcare worker attending a demonstration in support of the legislation pleaded for the harassment of herself and her staff to stop, picking out an anti-abortionist counterprotestor who’s repeatedly chanted at her that she’s going to hell. They hand out plastic foetuses, photograph clinic patients, bellow that every stage of human fertilisation is a “baby” and get in the faces of anyone seeking treatment for anything from a yeast infection to endometriosis in attempts to guilt and shame anyone who might be receiving a medical termination.

A personal acquaintance described her reduction to tears outside outside a clinic where she was berated with accusations she was a child murderer. She was attending to receive fertility treatment – she’d been struggling to conceive for some time.

As elsewhere – ahem, Ireland! – feminist activism has so thoroughly spoken its fairness values to the reproductive lives of Australians. Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have already imposed the safe access zones; the new status quo is now one where in NSW it was not merely left-Labor feminist MP Penny Sharpe putting her name to the legislation as a private members’ bill. Its co-sponsor was MP Trevor Khan, from the rural-based, conservative National party.

“This is not a left/right issue” Khan told the gathering of feminist, libertarian, rural, trade union, health worker and Indigenous demonstrators who gathered in solidarity yesterday, about an issue that once upon a time most certainly was.

Safety, privacy, respect and dignity are concepts with powerful loyalty across the ideological spectrum – no more or less in NSW country towns like Albury, where the harassment of women seeking reproductive health services represents the ugliest invasion of privacy in an already small community. The Nationals and Labor again teamed up to back the bill in the lower house. Not even the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce could sever an alliance so firmly grounded in the moral, although not for the lack of trying.

So fiercely has this particular moral frame been affirmed around these issues that the NOers were reduced to affixing themselves with fauxminist sloganeering as if fresh pink icing could obscure the rotten buns of old attempts at shame, control and woman-hating. “We Support Women” they declare, as if the community standards of fairness and safety could bend in their direction merely with the addition of fresh faces and sweet platitudes. These are, of course, importations of American tactics of dissembling, and ineffective here. “Sidewalk counsellors” somewhat betrays the inauthentic identity of the local movement – in Australia, folks, we call them footpaths.

And it’s with the affirmation of our local values, the popular support, and the extraordinary coalition that provokes the immediate political question in the legislation’s wake. The conservatives allowed themselves a conscience vote on the legislation and the “no” side was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 61-18. The minister for women, Tanya Davies, and minister for family and community services and former sex discrimination minister, Pru Goward, found themselves on the losing side. Their perceived betrayal on free speech grounds has outraged those demanding their right to safety and privacy.

To oppose a bipartisan majority is politically dangerous. To do so against the interests of your direct constituency resembles abject folly. Or plain spite. “Their vote was out of step with community expectations, and also ignored the calls of organisations that work with the women they’re supposed to be representing,” said a spokesperson for safe access campaigners, Fair Agenda, with lethal courteousness.

It’s unlikely that their ambitions will be the only fatality of these events. After the safe access zones decision, and Ireland’s extraordinary rebuff of old body-control politics, abortion remaining as an artefact of the criminal code in both NSW and Queensland is under impending threat. The sidewalk counsellors denied their bully pulpits on our footpaths, the only remaining denial may indeed just be those few politicians as yet unbending to the power of the obvious popular tide.

Who says no to safety? Only those who want a bully pulpit on our footpaths | Van Badham

I knew the other side were cooked when yesterday’s tweets appeared. “Say NO to #safeaccesszones!” isn’t the kind of messaging that wins you popular support. Even if the public has no idea what or where your zone is, “safety” isn’t something anyone likes to say no to.

Denial, however, was the theme of the whole “say NO” campaign – the “access zones” in question are the 150m radii around clinics and doctors’ offices in NSW providing reproductive health and pregnancy termination services. Denying women the opportunity to seek medical care without their personal harassment, bullying and intimidation has been the whole act of the anti-abortion “sidewalk counsellors”. These were the “say NOers” desperately trying to stop the passage of legislation debated in New South Wales parliamentary yesterday drafted to criminalise their outrageous behaviour.

What kind of behaviour? A healthcare worker attending a demonstration in support of the legislation pleaded for the harassment of herself and her staff to stop, picking out an anti-abortionist counterprotestor who’s repeatedly chanted at her that she’s going to hell. They hand out plastic foetuses, photograph clinic patients, bellow that every stage of human fertilisation is a “baby” and get in the faces of anyone seeking treatment for anything from a yeast infection to endometriosis in attempts to guilt and shame anyone who might be receiving a medical termination.

A personal acquaintance described her reduction to tears outside outside a clinic where she was berated with accusations she was a child murderer. She was attending to receive fertility treatment – she’d been struggling to conceive for some time.

As elsewhere – ahem, Ireland! – feminist activism has so thoroughly spoken its fairness values to the reproductive lives of Australians. Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have already imposed the safe access zones; the new status quo is now one where in NSW it was not merely left-Labor feminist MP Penny Sharpe putting her name to the legislation as a private members’ bill. Its co-sponsor was MP Trevor Khan, from the rural-based, conservative National party.

“This is not a left/right issue” Khan told the gathering of feminist, libertarian, rural, trade union, health worker and Indigenous demonstrators who gathered in solidarity yesterday, about an issue that once upon a time most certainly was.

Safety, privacy, respect and dignity are concepts with powerful loyalty across the ideological spectrum – no more or less in NSW country towns like Albury, where the harassment of women seeking reproductive health services represents the ugliest invasion of privacy in an already small community. The Nationals and Labor again teamed up to back the bill in the lower house. Not even the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce could sever an alliance so firmly grounded in the moral, although not for the lack of trying.

So fiercely has this particular moral frame been affirmed around these issues that the NOers were reduced to affixing themselves with fauxminist sloganeering as if fresh pink icing could obscure the rotten buns of old attempts at shame, control and woman-hating. “We Support Women” they declare, as if the community standards of fairness and safety could bend in their direction merely with the addition of fresh faces and sweet platitudes. These are, of course, importations of American tactics of dissembling, and ineffective here. “Sidewalk counsellors” somewhat betrays the inauthentic identity of the local movement – in Australia, folks, we call them footpaths.

And it’s with the affirmation of our local values, the popular support, and the extraordinary coalition that provokes the immediate political question in the legislation’s wake. The conservatives allowed themselves a conscience vote on the legislation and the “no” side was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 61-18. The minister for women, Tanya Davies, and minister for family and community services and former sex discrimination minister, Pru Goward, found themselves on the losing side. Their perceived betrayal on free speech grounds has outraged those demanding their right to safety and privacy.

To oppose a bipartisan majority is politically dangerous. To do so against the interests of your direct constituency resembles abject folly. Or plain spite. “Their vote was out of step with community expectations, and also ignored the calls of organisations that work with the women they’re supposed to be representing,” said a spokesperson for safe access campaigners, Fair Agenda, with lethal courteousness.

It’s unlikely that their ambitions will be the only fatality of these events. After the safe access zones decision, and Ireland’s extraordinary rebuff of old body-control politics, abortion remaining as an artefact of the criminal code in both NSW and Queensland is under impending threat. The sidewalk counsellors denied their bully pulpits on our footpaths, the only remaining denial may indeed just be those few politicians as yet unbending to the power of the obvious popular tide.

Who says no to safety? Only those who want a bully pulpit on our footpaths | Van Badham

I knew the other side were cooked when yesterday’s tweets appeared. “Say NO to #safeaccesszones!” isn’t the kind of messaging that wins you popular support. Even if the public has no idea what or where your zone is, “safety” isn’t something anyone likes to say no to.

Denial, however, was the theme of the whole “say NO” campaign – the “access zones” in question are the 150m radii around clinics and doctors’ offices in NSW providing reproductive health and pregnancy termination services. Denying women the opportunity to seek medical care without their personal harassment, bullying and intimidation has been the whole act of the anti-abortion “sidewalk counsellors”. These were the “say NOers” desperately trying to stop the passage of legislation debated in New South Wales parliamentary yesterday drafted to criminalise their outrageous behaviour.

What kind of behaviour? A healthcare worker attending a demonstration in support of the legislation pleaded for the harassment of herself and her staff to stop, picking out an anti-abortionist counterprotestor who’s repeatedly chanted at her that she’s going to hell. They hand out plastic foetuses, photograph clinic patients, bellow that every stage of human fertilisation is a “baby” and get in the faces of anyone seeking treatment for anything from a yeast infection to endometriosis in attempts to guilt and shame anyone who might be receiving a medical termination.

A personal acquaintance described her reduction to tears outside outside a clinic where she was berated with accusations she was a child murderer. She was attending to receive fertility treatment – she’d been struggling to conceive for some time.

As elsewhere – ahem, Ireland! – feminist activism has so thoroughly spoken its fairness values to the reproductive lives of Australians. Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have already imposed the safe access zones; the new status quo is now one where in NSW it was not merely left-Labor feminist MP Penny Sharpe putting her name to the legislation as a private members’ bill. Its co-sponsor was MP Trevor Khan, from the rural-based, conservative National party.

“This is not a left/right issue” Khan told the gathering of feminist, libertarian, rural, trade union, health worker and Indigenous demonstrators who gathered in solidarity yesterday, about an issue that once upon a time most certainly was.

Safety, privacy, respect and dignity are concepts with powerful loyalty across the ideological spectrum – no more or less in NSW country towns like Albury, where the harassment of women seeking reproductive health services represents the ugliest invasion of privacy in an already small community. The Nationals and Labor again teamed up to back the bill in the lower house. Not even the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce could sever an alliance so firmly grounded in the moral, although not for the lack of trying.

So fiercely has this particular moral frame been affirmed around these issues that the NOers were reduced to affixing themselves with fauxminist sloganeering as if fresh pink icing could obscure the rotten buns of old attempts at shame, control and woman-hating. “We Support Women” they declare, as if the community standards of fairness and safety could bend in their direction merely with the addition of fresh faces and sweet platitudes. These are, of course, importations of American tactics of dissembling, and ineffective here. “Sidewalk counsellors” somewhat betrays the inauthentic identity of the local movement – in Australia, folks, we call them footpaths.

And it’s with the affirmation of our local values, the popular support, and the extraordinary coalition that provokes the immediate political question in the legislation’s wake. The conservatives allowed themselves a conscience vote on the legislation and the “no” side was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 61-18. The minister for women, Tanya Davies, and minister for family and community services and former sex discrimination minister, Pru Goward, found themselves on the losing side. Their perceived betrayal on free speech grounds has outraged those demanding their right to safety and privacy.

To oppose a bipartisan majority is politically dangerous. To do so against the interests of your direct constituency resembles abject folly. Or plain spite. “Their vote was out of step with community expectations, and also ignored the calls of organisations that work with the women they’re supposed to be representing,” said a spokesperson for safe access campaigners, Fair Agenda, with lethal courteousness.

It’s unlikely that their ambitions will be the only fatality of these events. After the safe access zones decision, and Ireland’s extraordinary rebuff of old body-control politics, abortion remaining as an artefact of the criminal code in both NSW and Queensland is under impending threat. The sidewalk counsellors denied their bully pulpits on our footpaths, the only remaining denial may indeed just be those few politicians as yet unbending to the power of the obvious popular tide.

Who says no to safety? Only those who want a bully pulpit on our footpaths | Van Badham

I knew the other side were cooked when yesterday’s tweets appeared. “Say NO to #safeaccesszones!” isn’t the kind of messaging that wins you popular support. Even if the public has no idea what or where your zone is, “safety” isn’t something anyone likes to say no to.

Denial, however, was the theme of the whole “say NO” campaign – the “access zones” in question are the 150m radii around clinics and doctors’ offices in NSW providing reproductive health and pregnancy termination services. Denying women the opportunity to seek medical care without their personal harassment, bullying and intimidation has been the whole act of the anti-abortion “sidewalk counsellors”. These were the “say NOers” desperately trying to stop the passage of legislation debated in New South Wales parliamentary yesterday drafted to criminalise their outrageous behaviour.

What kind of behaviour? A healthcare worker attending a demonstration in support of the legislation pleaded for the harassment of herself and her staff to stop, picking out an anti-abortionist counterprotestor who’s repeatedly chanted at her that she’s going to hell. They hand out plastic foetuses, photograph clinic patients, bellow that every stage of human fertilisation is a “baby” and get in the faces of anyone seeking treatment for anything from a yeast infection to endometriosis in attempts to guilt and shame anyone who might be receiving a medical termination.

A personal acquaintance described her reduction to tears outside outside a clinic where she was berated with accusations she was a child murderer. She was attending to receive fertility treatment – she’d been struggling to conceive for some time.

As elsewhere – ahem, Ireland! – feminist activism has so thoroughly spoken its fairness values to the reproductive lives of Australians. Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have already imposed the safe access zones; the new status quo is now one where in NSW it was not merely left-Labor feminist MP Penny Sharpe putting her name to the legislation as a private members’ bill. Its co-sponsor was MP Trevor Khan, from the rural-based, conservative National party.

“This is not a left/right issue” Khan told the gathering of feminist, libertarian, rural, trade union, health worker and Indigenous demonstrators who gathered in solidarity yesterday, about an issue that once upon a time most certainly was.

Safety, privacy, respect and dignity are concepts with powerful loyalty across the ideological spectrum – no more or less in NSW country towns like Albury, where the harassment of women seeking reproductive health services represents the ugliest invasion of privacy in an already small community. The Nationals and Labor again teamed up to back the bill in the lower house. Not even the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce could sever an alliance so firmly grounded in the moral, although not for the lack of trying.

So fiercely has this particular moral frame been affirmed around these issues that the NOers were reduced to affixing themselves with fauxminist sloganeering as if fresh pink icing could obscure the rotten buns of old attempts at shame, control and woman-hating. “We Support Women” they declare, as if the community standards of fairness and safety could bend in their direction merely with the addition of fresh faces and sweet platitudes. These are, of course, importations of American tactics of dissembling, and ineffective here. “Sidewalk counsellors” somewhat betrays the inauthentic identity of the local movement – in Australia, folks, we call them footpaths.

And it’s with the affirmation of our local values, the popular support, and the extraordinary coalition that provokes the immediate political question in the legislation’s wake. The conservatives allowed themselves a conscience vote on the legislation and the “no” side was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 61-18. The minister for women, Tanya Davies, and minister for family and community services and former sex discrimination minister, Pru Goward, found themselves on the losing side. Their perceived betrayal on free speech grounds has outraged those demanding their right to safety and privacy.

To oppose a bipartisan majority is politically dangerous. To do so against the interests of your direct constituency resembles abject folly. Or plain spite. “Their vote was out of step with community expectations, and also ignored the calls of organisations that work with the women they’re supposed to be representing,” said a spokesperson for safe access campaigners, Fair Agenda, with lethal courteousness.

It’s unlikely that their ambitions will be the only fatality of these events. After the safe access zones decision, and Ireland’s extraordinary rebuff of old body-control politics, abortion remaining as an artefact of the criminal code in both NSW and Queensland is under impending threat. The sidewalk counsellors denied their bully pulpits on our footpaths, the only remaining denial may indeed just be those few politicians as yet unbending to the power of the obvious popular tide.

Who says no to safety? Only those who want a bully pulpit on our footpaths | Van Badham

I knew the other side were cooked when yesterday’s tweets appeared. “Say NO to #safeaccesszones!” isn’t the kind of messaging that wins you popular support. Even if the public has no idea what or where your zone is, “safety” isn’t something anyone likes to say no to.

Denial, however, was the theme of the whole “say NO” campaign – the “access zones” in question are the 150m radii around clinics and doctors’ offices in NSW providing reproductive health and pregnancy termination services. Denying women the opportunity to seek medical care without their personal harassment, bullying and intimidation has been the whole act of the anti-abortion “sidewalk counsellors”. These were the “say NOers” desperately trying to stop the passage of legislation debated in New South Wales parliamentary yesterday drafted to criminalise their outrageous behaviour.

What kind of behaviour? A healthcare worker attending a demonstration in support of the legislation pleaded for the harassment of herself and her staff to stop, picking out an anti-abortionist counterprotestor who’s repeatedly chanted at her that she’s going to hell. They hand out plastic foetuses, photograph clinic patients, bellow that every stage of human fertilisation is a “baby” and get in the faces of anyone seeking treatment for anything from a yeast infection to endometriosis in attempts to guilt and shame anyone who might be receiving a medical termination.

A personal acquaintance described her reduction to tears outside outside a clinic where she was berated with accusations she was a child murderer. She was attending to receive fertility treatment – she’d been struggling to conceive for some time.

As elsewhere – ahem, Ireland! – feminist activism has so thoroughly spoken its fairness values to the reproductive lives of Australians. Tasmania, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have already imposed the safe access zones; the new status quo is now one where in NSW it was not merely left-Labor feminist MP Penny Sharpe putting her name to the legislation as a private members’ bill. Its co-sponsor was MP Trevor Khan, from the rural-based, conservative National party.

“This is not a left/right issue” Khan told the gathering of feminist, libertarian, rural, trade union, health worker and Indigenous demonstrators who gathered in solidarity yesterday, about an issue that once upon a time most certainly was.

Safety, privacy, respect and dignity are concepts with powerful loyalty across the ideological spectrum – no more or less in NSW country towns like Albury, where the harassment of women seeking reproductive health services represents the ugliest invasion of privacy in an already small community. The Nationals and Labor again teamed up to back the bill in the lower house. Not even the former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce could sever an alliance so firmly grounded in the moral, although not for the lack of trying.

So fiercely has this particular moral frame been affirmed around these issues that the NOers were reduced to affixing themselves with fauxminist sloganeering as if fresh pink icing could obscure the rotten buns of old attempts at shame, control and woman-hating. “We Support Women” they declare, as if the community standards of fairness and safety could bend in their direction merely with the addition of fresh faces and sweet platitudes. These are, of course, importations of American tactics of dissembling, and ineffective here. “Sidewalk counsellors” somewhat betrays the inauthentic identity of the local movement – in Australia, folks, we call them footpaths.

And it’s with the affirmation of our local values, the popular support, and the extraordinary coalition that provokes the immediate political question in the legislation’s wake. The conservatives allowed themselves a conscience vote on the legislation and the “no” side was defeated by an overwhelming majority of 61-18. The minister for women, Tanya Davies, and minister for family and community services and former sex discrimination minister, Pru Goward, found themselves on the losing side. Their perceived betrayal on free speech grounds has outraged those demanding their right to safety and privacy.

To oppose a bipartisan majority is politically dangerous. To do so against the interests of your direct constituency resembles abject folly. Or plain spite. “Their vote was out of step with community expectations, and also ignored the calls of organisations that work with the women they’re supposed to be representing,” said a spokesperson for safe access campaigners, Fair Agenda, with lethal courteousness.

It’s unlikely that their ambitions will be the only fatality of these events. After the safe access zones decision, and Ireland’s extraordinary rebuff of old body-control politics, abortion remaining as an artefact of the criminal code in both NSW and Queensland is under impending threat. The sidewalk counsellors denied their bully pulpits on our footpaths, the only remaining denial may indeed just be those few politicians as yet unbending to the power of the obvious popular tide.