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Without Prejudice: August 2022

Student Contribution: Adam Marshall

U.S Supreme Court Overturns Roe v Wade

In late June, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled to overturn a 50-year-old precedent in the case of Roe v Wade, which provided women across the country with abortion rights. Capturing the attention of countries around the world, the Supreme Court noted that the right to abortion is now a decision for each of the states to make. 13 states had laws in place that were designed to come into effect automatically after the case was overturned, resulting in an instantaneous ban.

Unlike Australia, the United States Supreme Court is heavily politicised, with Justices aligning to a Republican or Democratic ideology. The appointment of a Justice begins on a recommendation from the President, which then involves deliberation and discussion in the Senate Judiciary Committee, before requiring a majority vote in the Senate. There are, presently, nine Justices, with a Republican president nominating six of these and effectively holding a majority.

This has sparked debate on whether there will be changes to other established precedents which involve the right to contraception and same-sex marriage. In addition, whether states have the jurisdiction to ban people from travelling to another state to receive abortion facilities.

Many fear that such change will not stop abortions, but only make them more unsafe. This has led to the Democrats searching for a way to codify Roe v Wade or change the Supreme Court’s decision, but this would take time.

Reversing established precedents undoubtedly has significant implications and the repercussions are now being witnessed in the US.

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FINA Ruling on Transgender Swimmers

A change to sporting competitions across the world has sparked discussion as to whether the approach to transgender people in sport has been appropriately decided.

The global swimming governing body, FINA, voted to prohibit transgender women from elite competitions if they had ‘experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 [which marks the start of physical development], or before age 12, whichever is later’. The change was supported by a 71% vote of the 152 national federations on the basis that it would result in unfair advantages. In response to this change, the swimming body promised to create an ‘open’ category for transgender women to compete in.

Following the decision from FINA, the International Ruby League also barred transgender women from international competition and soccer’s FIFA stated they would review their stance on the eligibility of players. The changes in the sporting profession may give rise to legal challenge for discrimination and changes to the Olympics and their future events.

Nikki Dryden, a former Olympian, and current human rights lawyer in New York, noted that members who voted in the FINA policy review only had 14 minutes to analyse and consider the policy before submitting their votes. With such an important topic being discussed, many see that too little time was afforded especially as the result will likely have major implications on the sporting profession.

With other sporting organizations likely to review their rules, it is expected there will need to be a greater focus on equality and inclusion for transgender athletes.

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The Government’s Commitment to First Nation People and NAIDOC Week

Anthony Albanese’s Labor Government in late May saw a commitment to the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full. This statement is an ambition for the legislature to strive for Indigenous Australian representation by having an enshrined voice in Parliament and the Constitution. In a step towards equality and social justice, the voice would provide a voice of authenticity and representation needed to ensure laws in Australia are representative of the people who belong to the land.

NAIDOC Week was held in early July, with the 2022 theme being ‘Get Up! Stand Up! Show Up!’, with a focus to continue rallying and supporting members of the Indigenous communities. It is a time to be inspired by others and get around each other to continue the momentum in implementing reforms.

Whilst a date is yet to be set for the implementation of the statement, Indigenous communities are optimistic to keep pushing forward with the new government bringing hope and new energy for the community.

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