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Babette Francis

During the cold war era, the intelligentsia of the Left  regarded -  and  wrote -  of the USA and the USSR as if these two countries were morally equivalent, like two football teams, and  it didn't matter from a moral perspective which team  won.  To remind younger readers who may not have learned  about the differences between the USA and the USSR, one  difference was  the USSR murdered millions of its own citizens, while the USA did not.

The same game of moral equivalence is  played  in Australia in the abortion debate,  at Federal and Victorian  level, with the three  pregnancy  options of giving birth, adoption and  abortion   treated as morally equivalent choices.  Similar to  the  USSR death  toll,  millions of  unborn babies die as a result of  the abortion option.

At the Federal level, Democrat Senator Stott-Despoja introduced    "The Transparent
Advertising and Notification of Pregnancy Counselling Services Bill"
  in 2005,  to "promote transparency by mandating that pregnancy counselling services which do not refer for terminations of pregnancy must provide a statement to this effect in any advertising material...".  The Bill was referred to  the Community Affairs Legislation Committee  which reported  in   2006 that the Bill not be supported because "..... Overall the Bill seeks, in the Majority‚Äôs opinion, to hamper the efforts of those pregnancy counselling services which do not refer for abortion by imposing specific requirements for transparency without imposing equivalent provisions on other services, such as those linked to abortion providers.

"......Rather than hindering the work of those pregnancy counselling services which offer support to women facing a crisis pregnancy to choose an alternative to abortion we should be grateful for this community service, largely carried out by volunteers. The Commonwealth should be finding ways to foster and enhance this work, not undermine it...."

I suspect Senator Stott-Despoja introduced her Bill not  because she regards giving birth and abortion as morally equivalent, but  she might  actually prefer the  abortion  option, seeing it as a symbol of women's liberation - or as  the new buzz word - "women's autonomy".  Fortunately,  Stott-Despoja's and the  Democrats' tenure in the Senate is terminated.

"Women's autonomy" is the much touted rationale for the (pro-terminating the life of the fetus) Victorian Law Reform Commission's  "Law of Abortion -  Final Report", tabled in the Victorian Parliament  in late May.  The VLRC were  constrained by their Terms of Reference  requiring  them to present options for  decriminalising  abortion, but as Charles Francis, AM, QC pointed out to VLRC Chairman, Professor Neil Rees, they could have requested additional terms of reference. 

Not only did they not do so, they rejected every one of the recommendations  in pro-life submissions which might have reduced the incidence of abortion, e.g. cooling-off  time,  parental consent for minors, providing ultrasound pictures of the fetus, and provision of information on the risks of psychological damage, increased breast cancer,  future premature births and the  connection to  cerebral palsy, and future infertility.  Nor did the VLRC
recommend   gestational limits on abortion or acknowledge fetal pain  in late-term abortions.

The VLRC rationale for rejecting  pro-life  recommendations is that these restrict  "women's autonomy" (a phrase used   incessantly)  but how does it restrict women's autonomy to provide information?  The raison d'etre for decriminalising abortion is that it be treated like any other medical procedure, but in no other medical procedures are  surgeons reluctant to show the patient x-rays or ultrasounds of  what is being operated on. The VLRC's uncritically accepted the views of abortion proponents, even though as Archbishop Hart pointed out, the abortionists' livelihoods depend on performing  abortions.

One of the worst recommendations in the VLRC report is the rejection of anti-coercion legislation because "there is no hard evidence of coercion", despite  evidence in the books of Anne Lastman ("Redeeming Grief")  and Melinda Tankard Reist  ("Giving Sorrow Words")  and  in  legal  cases cited by Charles Francis and Michael Houlihan  where there  was coercion and  in which settlements were  obtained  for  the women concerned.

Rejecting  anti-coercion legislation  makes clear that the VLRC is not on the side of the angels (i.e. giving birth or adoption) because if there is no coercion as  claimed, the legislation will do no harm, and it might do good by deterring bullying.  However, the VLRC's assertion is not supported by their own  cited evidence  from  articles in the Medical Journal of Australia and the Australian New Zealand Journal of  Public Health that "Partner violence is the strongest predictive factor of pregnancy termination in Australian women".  If domestic violence is not coercive what is?

The VLRC focus on   "women's autonomy" being  of greater value than the life of their unborn children   almost suggests that pregnant women are imprisoned in  dungeons and deprived of freedom, food and fresh air for 9 months duration.  This concept of pregnant women being
automatons  is also articulated in an article  "Abortion and the full humanity of women:  nearly there"  by Jo Wainer in  the CSIRO publication "Sexual Health".  Does Wainer  mean women  belong to some sub-species and  when abortion is decriminalised,  by  some Darwinian process women will evolve into  being fully  human? 

Wainer makes  insinuations about the influence of Irish Catholicism and religious belief on the abortion debate,  She is right to the extent that this is  a spiritual battle,  but  science is on our side and  is what  abortion promoters really fear.  Not only are women fully human but ultrasound shows so are the babies in their wombs.




Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family

NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN