“We built up a massive campaign and a very wide network of support. We were a group of people who knew an enormous amount,” she says.
“It is quite unique in the degree to which it was significantly driven by a group of researchers from one university, although there were other key figures who were external to Flinders.
“Together, we brought a very sophisticated knowledge and analysis of Australian abortion history, anti-abortion-politics and the public health system.”
Abortion has been a focus of Associate Professor Baird’s research career since the 1990s when she completed a PhD on South Australian women’s experiences of illegal abortions before 1970.
It wasn’t until the early 2010s that she and fellow Flinders academics seriously considered the need for a community-driven push for change.
In 2015 SAAAC was formed. Associate Professor Baird became a co-convener alongside Flinders nursing academic Brigid Coombe, who brought experience working in the provision of abortion services in SA, while senior lecturer in civil justice and litigation Mark Rankin applied his law expertise.
Adjunct Professor Judith Dwyer was central to the campaign, contributing her research, long history in abortion activism and distinguished career in public health.
Clinical psychologist and researcher Dr Monica Cations joined the fight along with retired colleague Margie Ripper. In 2019, Judith, Monica and Margie conducted an online survey that showed 80% of respondents supported decriminalisation in SA.
Senior lecturer and historian Dr Prudence Flowers took on various media appearances as well as managing SAAAC’s social media accounts.
“Between Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we had almost 4,000 followers,” Dr Flowers says. “We averaged 40 posts on Facebook each month and offered live coverage and analysis of all the legislative proceedings.”