There has been a changing of the guard at Alranz (the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand), the organisation formed in 1970 to lobby for the removal of restrictions on abortion.
Terry Bellamak, the voluble former Goldman Sachs executive from New York who brought an American assertiveness to the Alranz presidency, has stepped down after six years. The new interim president is Tracy Morison, from Massey University.
A look at Morison’s academic CV is instructive. I’ve taken the following verbatim from Massey’s website:
Tracy Morison is a senior lecturer in health psychology. She is also Editor of Feminism & Psychology and an Honorary Research Associate of the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction programme at Rhodes University (South Africa) where she obtained her Ph.D. Her postdoctoral work was conducted at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa, where she subsequently worked as a senior researcher before returning to the academe. Dr Morison’s research is located at the intersection of health psychology, critical psychology, and feminism. Her work is driven by a social justice orientation and seeks to explore how the socio-political context shapes and constrains sexual and reproductive decision-making, relations, and practices. A key focus in her work is on gender, sexualities, and their interrelationship with other social locations. She draws on feminist and other critical theories and in-depth qualitative methodologies to illuminate the multiple, complex processes in which sexualities and reproduction are embedded.
Insofar as it’s possible to make any sense of all this, we can conclude that Morison inhabits the furthermost reaches of post-modernist lunacy. Her work bears no obvious relationship with the real world that most New Zealanders inhabit. Phrases such as “critical theory”, “critical studies” and “social justice” (a neo-Marxist construct that can mean just about anything, but which usually serves as a smokescreen for attacks on capitalism) point to a career built on abstruse theory and the determined pursuit of radical ideological agendas that in no way relate to the needs or wishes of ordinary people. This tells us something about the quintessential character of the zealots who run Alranz and who purport to speak for the women of New Zealand.
No surprises there. I don’t think Alranz ever pretended to be a grass-roots organisation. It has always appeared to represent a privileged feminist metropolitan elite, the members of which occupy positions of cultural influence and are adept at exploiting supportive connections in politics and the media.
Estimates based on information supplied by the Registrar of Incorporated Societies indicate that in 2018 (the most recent year for which figures are available), the membership of Alranz may have been as low as 36 and certainly no higher than 60. Under its constitution, the quorum for an AGM is four members, which surely says something. But Alranz does better on Facebook, where I’m told it has 2300 followers.
In this respect it stands in stark contrast to the country’s biggest pro-life group, Voice for Life, which has 1100 paid-up members, 10,000 supporters on its mailing list, nearly 14,000 Facebook followers and 32 apparently active branches. But ask yourself this question: which organisation gets more media exposure – Alranz or VFL?
Incidentally, the Alranz website refers to its new interim president as a “tauiwi academic”, which is a woke way of saying that like her immediate predecessor, she’s not a native-born New Zealander. (Morison’s CV indicates she’s from South Africa.)
Nothing surprising there, either. As I noted in a post last March: “As immigration has ramped up, so New Zealand has become home to an increasing number of activists, political aspirants, bureaucrats and academics from countries whose values and mindsets are often dissimilar to ours.”
Some of our most vigorous agitators for radical change are relative newcomers. As I said in that same post, we shouldn't expect immigrants to remain silent and invisible. But neither should they expect those of us who were born and raised here, whose families in many cases have been here for generations, and who have paid taxes and voted in New Zealand elections all our lives, to gratefully embrace newcomers whose first instinct on arrival is to plunge into political activism aimed at refashioning our laws and institutions.
Bellamak, for example, had no compunctions about wanting to limit New Zealanders’ freedom of speech by lobbying for so-called “safe areas” around abortion clinics where peaceful protest vigils would be made illegal. She tried to justify this interference with our traditional rights by citing examples of violent anti-abortion protests in her native America, presumably because she couldn’t find any evidence of them happening here. Nonetheless the shameful “safe areas” legislation is making its way through Parliament now, despite the Attorney-General admitting that it cuts across the free speech provisions in the Bill of Rights Act.
But back to Alranz, the continued existence of which raises an interesting question. Since last year, New Zealand has had one of the world’s most permissive abortion regimes, with virtually no restrictions on abortion until the moment of birth. The law is so lacking in basic humanity that it contains no provision for the protection of babies accidentally born alive in late-term abortions. They are left to die. But legally sanctioned, no-questions-asked abortion is not enough for the zealots of Alranz, who have vowed to keep fighting for “improvements” to the law. So my question is: what type of grotesque, dystopian, nihilistic world do they envisage? I shudder to think what the answer might be.
(Disclosure: My sister is a former branch president of Voice for Life.)