ANU health law elective inspires student's SMH op-ed

ANU Bachelor of Laws/Asian Studies student, Aditi Razdan
Aditi Razdan wrote an op-ed for The Sydney Morning Herlad urging the "sexist surcharge" on the emergency contraceptive pill to be abolished. Photo: Tom Fearon/ANU

It (Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights) is highly worth studying, primarily because it is taught by a doctor-lawyer (Professor Faunce) and there is so much practical experience to gain if you do the mock trial.

ANU students are often encouraged to demonstrate their learning in front of academics and classmates. However, Aditi Razdan went a step further recently for Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights (LAWS4219) by sharing her legal knowledge on a women’s health issue with an international audience.

The Bachelor of Laws/Asian Studies student’s op-ed, “At a uniquely stressful time, women are the mercy of the market”, appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on 1 May. The article critiques the high costs women pay, financially and emotionally, for the emergency contraceptive pill, calling for political action to deliver “tangible change” for those most vulnerable.

Apart from injecting a fresh perspective to the pre-election tax and healthcare debate, Aditi said her op-ed marked a rewarding culmination to her Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights studies under Professor Thomas Faunce.

“He encouraged us to write an op-ed or a letter to a minister on an issue we care about, particularly an issue that is at the intersection of health law and bioethics. Tax, health care and women’s issues are always relevant,” said Aditi, 22.

The autumn elective offers students a unique academic experience, not least because it shows how individual and social virtues and health law develop by consistently applying in conscience principles coherent with bioethics and human rights.

The course encourages a strong practical component to idealism and includes a mock trial with ANU medical students as expert witnesses and before judges at the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court. The mock trial, which centres on medical mayhem in the fictional jurisdiction of Uqbar, features futuristic Constitutional protections such as rights of nature, liquid democracy and corporate marriage to ecosystems.

“I’ve done a lot of amazing courses at the ANU Colleges of Asia and the Pacific and Law, both here and overseas, intensives and regular courses,” Aditi said.

“But I haven’t done anything quite like this (Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights) – possibly because I don’t have anything with a science-focus in my degree, so it’s really refreshing in that way. I really recommend fitting it in the later years of your degree.

“It’s highly worth studying primarily because it is taught by a doctor-lawyer (Professor Faunce) and there is so much practical experience to gain if you do the mock trial,” she added.

In Australia, the emergency contraceptive pill costs between $15 and $45. Although attitudes toward sex have evolved significantly over recent decades, there is a lingering stigma of irresponsibility associated with the emergency contraceptive pill despite it being an essential medical service, said Aditi.

“We have such a great healthcare system, and that’s why it’s shocking. I just think it’s a political choice,” she said.

A former sub-editor for East Asia Forum, a blog run by the Crawford School of Public Policy under the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, Aditi noted that writing op-eds, especially for a mainstream readership, requires regular practice – and persistence.

“If you’re a student hoping to get published, my advice is to just keep trying. You’ll always get better at it. Writing op-eds, particularly, is a skill, just like essay-writing is a skill at university,” she said.

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Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team