VP Trumble’s anti-abortion bungle shakes student union
Words by Maya Tlauka
Student union Vice-President, Isaac Trumble, encouraged Members of Parliament to vote down the SA abortion reform bill using his union email signature
On Dit has obtained an email sent by current Adelaide University Union Vice-President, Isaac Trumble, that showed evidence of him using his office to thwart the passage of SA’s abortion reform bill.
Utilising his AUU credentials, Trumble sent an email to SA electoral offices and Members of Parliament urging them to vote against the Termination of Pregnancy bill, which passed the Upper House three days ago.
The email was provided to On Dit through official channels by a South Australian Member of Parliament.
Dated Feb 18, Trumble writes, “The fact this bill allows abortion to birth is morally reprehensible and should not be pursued under any circumstances. Further the complete lack of protection for doctors who conscientiously object is cause for incredible concern.
“What the Attorney-General and other supporters of this bill fail to understand is that by forcing a doctor to refer someone to a doctor who will sign off on this procedure; they are undeniably part of a process which they believe to be the taking an innocent life — presumably the very opposite reason they decided to become doctors in the first place.”
Trumble refers to a clause which requires at least two medical practitioners to approve the abortion if the gestation period of the womb is longer than 22 weeks, 6 days.
Trumble goes on to state he read an article which claimed that since abortion to birth was legalised in Victoria, there have been 65 late-term abortions per year “solely for maternal psychosocial reasons. These are not reasons to do with fetal abnormality or maternal illness, or situations of rape or incest as AMA (Australian Medical Association) asserts.”
Trumble does not provide a source for the quote above, and On Dit could not find a reference to it in the 2017 Victorian Mothers and Babies Report. However, an ABC Fact Check found that while post-20 week abortions in Victoria rose sharply after it was decriminalised in 2008, since 2014 the figure has remained at below 2008 levels.
Decriminalisation bill a milestone
The Termination of Pregnancy Bill passed the SA Lower House on Feb 19 and the Upper House on March 2. The passing of the bill represents a milestone in women’s health care and bodily autonomy by removing abortion from the South Australian criminal code. In line with legislation in QLD, VIC, and NSW, abortion will now be treated as a healthcare issue and legislated as such.
Significant contention has surrounded the bill, in particular the allowance for late-term abortions. It is notable that the bill specifies stringent circumstances for the late-term abortions, requiring the authorisation of two medical practitioners, and the determination of significant risk to the health of the pregnant person or foetus.
Trumble was elected to the Vice-Presidency under the Connect ticket, which is affiliated with the Adelaide University Liberal Club, and currently holds the most number of seats in the Student Representative Council. The Liberal Club did not respond to our request for comment.
“A huge breach of trust”
The original Adelaide University Women’s Collective described this as “a huge breach of trust by the people who are meant to represent all Adelaide Uni students, and advocate for student issues rather than using their positions of privilege to pursue external political goals.
“Our concern is that combined with rejecting our club for affiliation, the AUU is showing a trend of being a political body pursuing political goals of a certain affiliation, rather than the students they work for.”
Leah Schamschurin, president-elect of the Labor Club and WoCo member, attacked Trumble for using his position to curb women’s rights.
“Women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights. Central to this is a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, the most fundamental right that she is entitled to. Her body is her home, and no one else has the right to tell her otherwise.
“It’s bad enough that the Pro Choice Club has been denied AUU affiliation while a Pro Life (named LifeChoice, or something along those lines) exists. But now an elected student representative, with a reasonable degree of influence, has contacted Members of Parliament to further push one side of a highly sensitive agenda.
“If the AUU Vice President wanted to make his opinions known to these MPs, then that is obviously something he is entitled to do. But to use his position at the University of Adelaide as though it is leverage, whether that use was explicitly stated or not, is an abuse of his power, misrepresenting the views of students, and inexcusable… Does the broader student community even know this happened?
“Countless studies, including ones from Amnesty International, all point to the simple fact that the rate of abortion remains unchanged regardless if it is legal or illegal. What does change when an abortion is made is abortion-related mortality — it goes down; dramatically so.”
Schamschurin further stated that the Labor club supports this legislation as a matter of policy, and affirms the right of women to choose what happens to their body. This includes “women who want an abortion and women who do not want an abortion.
“It should ultimately be their choice.”
AUU President Angela Qin claimed the use of an AUU email signature was an oversight on Trumble’s part.
“I have spoken with Isaac and he has confirmed to me that it was never his intent to speak on behalf of anyone other than himself. The inclusion of his email signature was an oversight on his behalf which he forgot to take off when he sent the email.
“Whilst it is unfortunate that Isaac has inadvertently used his AUU signature, he has apologised to the president for doing so and will address this to the board, and as such the matter is closed.”
Amendment: Originally, this report contained the following paragraph:
“Trumble was seen speaking to an AUU official in a public setting a day after the email was sent. The conversation revolved around Trumble potentially breaching his obligations as an AUU Board Director.”
On Dit has been informed that this misrepresented the nature of the meeting. Trumble acknowledged that he had sent the email, but there was no discussion about whether this breached his obligations as a Board Director. That determination will ultimately be made by the Board itself, if at all.