Apology for forced medical procedures linked to colonisation and racism in Australia

anna.jabour@mariestopes.org.au Abortion, Advocacy, Blog, Equity and access, Media, Reproductive coercion

MSI Australia today apologised to First Nations peoples subjected to forced contraception, abortion and sterilisation related to institutional and systemic racism in Australia since invasion.

Sexual and reproductive healthcare providers have been in Australia since invasion. Colonial violence resulted in thousands of years of health and healing knowledge to be overlooked and prohibited.

Managing Director Jamal Hakim said the wrongs of the past needed to be acknowledged.

“Forced and coerced sexual and reproductive procedures, including contraception, abortion and sterilisation, have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss,” he said.

“We apologise for these reproductive injustices.

“We apologise especially for forced sexual and reproductive procedures on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and those who are LGBTIQ+.

“For the pain, suffering, and hurt experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families, and communities, we say sorry.

“We must acknowledge the trauma that has been caused to enable us to do better, and to prevent further re-traumatisation.

“We commit to a future where the injustices of the past must never, never happen again. To ensure cultural safety, we must reimagine and build a future where we enable self-determination for all, to make decisions over our own sexual and reproductive lives.

“This is only one step of many to build community and create systemic change.”

Manager of Psychosocial Health Alison Fonseca said as part of ongoing moves towards a different future, the organisation decided to change the name.

“This year we have changed our name to MSI Australia, before which we were known as Marie Stopes Australia,” she said.

“Marie Stopes (1880-1958) was known for her contributions to family planning, but she was also a eugenicist.

“The name change is an important gesture to move away from ties to eugenics, colonisation, racism and paternalism for which family planning services were known.

“Here in Australia, we work to demonstrate and embed cultural safety. Within MSI Australia, we work to embed anti-discrimination practice throughout our clinics.

“We identify and respond to complex situations of reproductive coercion, abuse and violence.

“We lobby for legislative and policy reforms to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services.

“We evolve models of evidence based clinical practice while delivering safe, quality, non-judgemental and compassionate sexual and reproductive healthcare.”

The apology can be viewed here and read here.

Apology | At MSI Australia we honour the First Nations peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect in particular to acknowledge and pay respect to those who were subjected to forced contraception, abortion and sterilisation due to institutional and systemic racism. This injustice is connected to forced removals of children and over representation in prisons. As we move forward in a new era of healthcare, we need to acknowledge the wrongs of the past. We are part of a sector that has benefited from reproductive coercion and reproductive violence. Forced and coerced sexual and reproductive procedures, including contraception, abortion and sterilisation have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss. We apologise for these reproductive injustices. We apologise especially for forced sexual and reproductive procedures on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability, and those who are LGBTQIA+. For the pain, suffering, and hurt experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their families, and communities, we say sorry. We must acknowledge the trauma that has been caused and prevent further re-traumatisation. We commit to a future where the injustices of the past must never, never happen again. We must enable self-determination for all, to make decisions over our own sexual and reproductive lives. This is one step of many to build community and create systemic change. While we cannot undo the events of the past, we can embrace new solutions to enduring inequities. A future where all people can achieve bodily autonomy. **  Jamal Hakim, Managing Director of MSI Australia, 3 August 2022.

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To access the apology in an alternative format or for further information contact Anna Jabour on 0428 396 391.

MSI Australia is a national not for profit provider of sexual and reproductive health services including permanent and long-acting reversible contraception and abortion care. For more information on our clinic network visit msiaustralia.org.au.