When are we going to hear from more women and less men as the abortion debate divides the nation? Mrs Crikey took a stand as you can see from this lead item in the Sunday email edition that went to subscribers.

Where on earth are Australia’s women in this bloke-driven abortion debate that Health Minister Tony Abbott inappropriately started and Governor General Michael Jeffrey has even more inappropriately stoked?

Consider today’s Sunday papers. Crikey has an 80-20 male bias in our subscription base but even we wouldn’t have served up blokes, blokes and more blokes talking about something that is a personal choice for women.

The GG was interviewed by the blokey Lincoln Wright for the Murdoch Sunday tabloids and by old Sunshine boy Phillip Hudson for their Fairfax competitors. It was on the front page across most of the country.

The Sunday Herald Sun is perhaps the best paper to demonstrate our point. It is owned by a patriarchal chap called Murdoch who has churned through three wives in his time and doesn’t see fit to appoint any of his daughters to the News Corp board, let alone a woman of any description since second wife Anna was booted off six years ago.

This paper doesn’t have a women in any position of serious responsibility and all the blokes sat around and decided that this abortion issue really needed to be discussed in full.

We had that charming bloke Matt Price telling us that the Mad Monk is really annoying Liberal women with his stance. Below him on page 85 was bearded burbler Derryn Hinch but at least he was warning women about the posse of blokes coming after them.

On the opposite page was that hard living short bloke Glenn Milne who appeared to be delivering another Peter Costello message that Tony Abbott has cruelled his leadership chances with his abortion stance.

The Age’s Misha Schubert certainly got a word in on the topic during the ABC Insiders couch debate this morning but another aggressive bloke called Andrew Bolt, who is on record arguing that women are clearly inferior to men, was condescending as he talked her down.

Then we have the spectable of another couple of blokes, Insiders host Barrie Cassidy and Family First senator-elect Steve Fielding, also discussing the issue.

Let’s hope some women get to be heard in this debate some time soon and the first point they should be making is that John Howard, a great advocate of stay-at-home wives, shouldn’t have allowed his pet Health Minister to spout personal views in a sensitive part of his portfolio that differ from government policy. He has a very large and obvious conflict of interest.

The PM then allowed his hand-picked Governor General to add to the community division when he should be sticking to his main gig of being a marginalised GG who cuts ribbons.

Remember all that hot air that used to come from John Howard’s office about William Deane’s outspoken positions on indigenous matters. If Michael Jeffrey is not slapped down pretty damn quickly then the PM is saying Billy Deane was well within his rights.

Stand by for the calming hand of John Howard to offer some soothing words to a troubled and divided nation after two of his lapdops did his dirty work this week.

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Not surprisingly for a contentious topic like abortion, the feedback has already poured in and here are some of your thoughts:

Three cheers for Mrs Crikey

Dear Paula (who seems to have the brain of the Crikey organisation),

Right away –

1. Thank you for standing-up in this issue.
2. Where the hell all of this idiocy came from all of a sudden?
3. Where are all the women to shout down these unbelievably sexist males who are standing up one after another and pontificating about what women should or shouldn’t do? Are we back to the 1950s again, when man must tell the ‘little women folk’ what they can and should do?
4. Again – what the hell is going on?

Andrew (married male)


Come on girls, speak up

Well asked. Where are all the Australian women in this Abbot driven abortion attack? They had better muster and be heard soon or they will end up wearing burkas. Come on girls, we can do it, we can take control of our bodies and lives. All we have to say is a big collective no. No sexual favours boys until you come to your senses and stop trying to keep us in the place that is most comfortable for you. And another thing, stop talking about ‘single mothers’ in the negative. Start talking about irresponsible fathers, the cowards that fuck and duck. Didn’t I read somewhere that the honourable Minister for Health did just that in his university days? Surely I must be mistaken about that, no honourable person would do such a thing, surely?

The no’s can do it!!

Ann Orton
Mildura

The G-G was making motherhood statements

When your blood pressure has subsided to normal, Mrs Crikey, you might like to re-read what the G-G actually said and to reconsider your quite hysterical rant. I can’t possibly imagine a less controversial statement than that made by the G-G. If you think that’s inflammatory, ie that there are too many abortions, and that – while preserving women’s right of choice – the number should be reduced by contraception, education and relationship counselling, then you need to take a Bex and have a good lie down. It was a ‘motherhood’ statement if ever there was one, no pun intended.

As an aside, I agree that Governors General should stay out of politics. However, if it were appropriate for Bill Deane to put his oar in to the public policy debate (which, in my view, it wasn’t, but which the Lumpen Left insists was perfectly fine) then it’s equally appropriate for Michael Jeffery to have his say.

Mike

Abort the G-G

Thanks to Paula for bringing up the latest example of windbag blokes waffling on about women’s bodies (makes a change from them perving on them I suppose). Paula, I do think women are talking about this issue, but it is probably mostly in forums which don’t attract a lot of external attention such as chat sites.

However, I don’t object to the G-G having a say per se because a certain side of politics wasn’t at all upset when a previous G-G had his. As someone who writes for a blog, I have noticed how bloke-heavy such sites are, so it is not surprise that Crikey has a 80-20 split. Maybe one day I will get around to subscribing myself in the interests of balancing the gender scales.

Cheers and take care
Darlene Taylor

Following the abortion debate from the West

Over here, in the wild, wild west, I remember listening to our then premier, Brian Burke, in the late 80s, on radio station 6PR, answering a query regarding the re-introduction of capital punishment in WA. His reply, that he didn’t care if 99% of the electorate favoured it, it would not be brought back because he was a catholic, absolutely floored me.

These people are here to represent their constituents, not to impose their moral and religious mores upon the public, undeclared.

The separation of church and state should also apply on an objective level; maybe more questions should be asked of politicians, by journalists?

What comes first, your obligation to the people who voted for you, or a personal belief? With our growing acceptance of other cultures this point is going to escalate. Tony Abbot should declare if his opposition to abortion comes from his electorate or from Rome.

Westerner

The perspective of a Queensland Liberal chick

I tend to agree that there are no women out there talking about the topic that may or may not at some point in their life be an issue for them, or their daughters. But I tend to think that many women have an opinion about what is right for them, and they think that what another woman would choose is a matter for her? After all, it’s a personal issue which only a woman can consider for herself.

When it comes down to it there are certain situations that you would want abortion to be made available – instances of pregnancies following rape, where the mother’s life is at risk, where the mother has other children and simply cannot afford to have another, and when a baby is not forming and will not survive.

Late term abortions are sometimes necessary. I know of two women in my ken who have had late term abortions and neither of them would have chosen to do this, but medical realities are medical realities. They grieve for their children as if they had been still-born.

Personally, there was a time when I would have had an abortion had I become pregnant accidentally. During the recession we had to have, for example, I was made redundant and was paying 18.5% interest rate, and had I got pregnant, the chocie between $250 for the abortion and a life of struggle. There would have been no choice. End the life of the child and max out the credit card.

But now if I was faced with a surprise pregnancy, I would probably keep the child because it’s not a matter of survival for me anymore.

But it’s not people like me who are having abortions (single working women 30 years+). It’s migrant women and women who are aged 40 years plus.

In the case of the migrant women, is it because we don’t have family planning information in the right languages? Are doctors in general practice in the high migrant areas prescribing the pill, but not explaining when it doesn’t work? It takes just one mistake to fall pregnant on the pill.

In the case of 40years+ women, are the babies being terminated diagnosed with a disability such as down syndrome? Do these women have other children and the cost or risk too high? I said I knew one woman who had other children (3) and had to have a termination becuase to carry the baby would have killed her. She didn’t want to partially orphan her three children for the sake of a fourth.

The other person I know who has had a late term abortion was told her child had down syndrome so severely it would not have been able to breath outside the womb. Would it have been fair to ask this woman to take the child to full term to have it die (not a boy or a girl, but hermaphrodyte) seconds later?

I live in an area where gynaecologists can’t give hysterectemies in the public health system because there’s no money for ‘non-essential’ surgery. Well, if the community is worried about the rate of abortion, perhaps hysterectomies should be ‘essential’ for women in low income groups who have children and do not wish to have more. (Perhaps more money should be given to this operation for a number of reasons, not the least being that some women genuinely suffer every month but that’s another argument.)

Or is it time for the pill to be issued freely to women aged 16 years and over?

Could perhaps men be encouraged to have vasectomies and more education on this procedure be given in those areas where women with other children are having abortions.

Every time I see a middle-aged man speaking about abortion, and generally he’s married and got children and a wife, I get angry.

If Tony Abbott is going to address the abortion issue as a Catholic, then I have a problem with it. But if he’s approaching it in the manner of a health minister trying to reduce the incidence of smoking or binge drinking, then he has my support.

Abortion is not a moral issue which can be forced on women. It’s a health issue which should be provided in health and survival situations.

There should be no big stick, just a lot of work to reverse the trend that abortion is being used as birth control.

Just my thoughts.

Queensland Liberal chick

Women too busy to speak up

Paula’s words on the abortion debate are resoundingly true. Perhaps women are missing because they’re too busy working and raising children enabling their partners the freedom to get into the debate.

Remember this isn’t the first of women’s rights to be diminished under the Howard government. Why does Mr Howard want us back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant? Perhaps he recognises the real threat to his leadership could be packaged as the first female prime minister. With powerful women like Helen Clarke just over the ocean showing international strength saying no to oppressive policies like jailing refugees and developing nuclear technology. Yes if I were a man I would find it easier to remain in denial and blame sexuality when I’m outwitted by a mere woman.

But on the topic of abortion I’d like to jam a watermelon up one of these vocal male opponents backside and then tell them they can’t have it removed. What right has any man to tell a women how to manage her body especially under the guise of really caring about life on Earth when the same government condoned the slaughter of 100,000 Iraqis who were already born. Sure technology can save premature babies but that still doesn’t give anyone the right to force women into parenthood. If we are to pretend were such a Christian lot all of a sudden then why are we reducing wages on the Holy Day? Why has the Sabbath been removed from our conscience by the desire for profit? There’s almost as much hypocrisy in the present government as there is in the church. All those lovely priests running around molesting children, is that why their anti-abortion, do they want more kiddies to fulfil their warped fantasies. But as I find it hard to remain inoffensive I ’d like to point out a simple medical fact that Chris Pine has overlooked.

Some women menstruate for several months while pregnant, even up to seven months. The Koran recognises this as it states a man cannot leave his wife until she has had three consecutive periods to ensure she isn’t pregnant. Women sometimes don’t know they are pregnant until late term.

Abortion is a personal issue to be managed by a doctor and his patient, its not up a bunch of suits in Canberra to decide, especially when they have the ulterior motive of stripping back more Medicare benefits. If they really cared about the unborn child then they would be suggesting an increase in reproductive counselling services for men and women using prevention as a means of reducing abortions. Subsidies for contraceptives would be appreciated by all including the high quality pills like Dianne available only to the wealthy at a restrictive cost of about $30.00 for two months supply. Condoms could be made available free of charge and if Brendon Nelson is listening this is a service student unions offer. Welcome to three years of divisive politics.

Ruth
Gawler SA

Women cop it from all sides

It’s an interesting debate isn’t it! I think many people are naturally inclined to be pro-life in their thinking. Maybe it’s because of the value that we all place on human life and our existence within that.

Personally I am inclined to be pro-life myself. However when reading your article and thinking about the issue itself, it continues to irritate me that when women make a choice one way or the other they are heckled by fundamentalist lunatics who are either dead against or dead for it and the poor woman copes it from both sides.

Particularly in America, I’ve seen documentaries on abortion clinics over there that have picket lines with the pious loonies screaming that they’ll go to Hell for murdering their child or whatever. Not very comforting for someone who has obviously deliberated extensively about what they really needed to do! In a supposedly civilised and free society no less!

Then there’s the situation in Australia. The whole debate needs to take a holistic approach to maintain objectivity. To my mind this rational, intellectual debate hasn’t happened yet due primarily to the emotiveness of the issue. There obviously needs to be changes in our approach to sex education so that a more balanced and choice orientated approach is taken to what is and continues to be a contentious issue. Further, abstinence is not always the best solution, safe choices and taking responsibility is the key!

Once the right balance is struck at the sex education level, society then has to respect and take on board people’s legal and social right to be sexually active whether they be Christian, Gentile, Black, White or Jewish. They also must respect the woman’s right to choose contraception and abortion so as to ensure that nothing unexpected occurs.

Did u hear that Mr. and Mrs. Crikey that was the collective gasp of horror from the newly elected Family First Senators!

That’s the other issue that needs to be addressed, the danger posed by Family First. How can proclaiming one’s support for Family values on one hand while also holding views that oppose choices for Family Planning be a positive thing?

They say they are prepared to open up the issue itself to public forum, but surely anyone with any sense would know that they represent the two-bit outer suburban Christian types who would have voted Family First primarily on the basis of its social views steeped in the anti-abortion/anti-euthanasia/anti-homosexual agenda!

Then again what will really change, the religious school and church types will continue to hound people with the super conservative view of just say no and the inherent scaremongering in such messages will continue to make kids think more seriously about what they want for their lives, taking the power out of the hands of the gray-haired, mole-ridden fuddy duddies who would dictate to them what their social and sexual rights should be! Hmm can you hear that a Beatles song is playing! I think its When I’m 64 😛

Masked_Marauder
Liberally Minded Church Pew Warmer 😛

My two cents on abortion

1. I think it is ridiculous to criticise the Health Minister for commenting on abortion. It is a procedure funded by the HIC and carried out in Public Hospitals. I would be shocked if the Health Minister did not have a view on it, for that is his job. Nobody complains when he comments on AIDS or Cancer, both major health issues in Australia. Does Mrs Crikey seriously argue that only women can contribute to any debate on breast cancer treatment and prevention? A blokes-only debate on testicular or prostate
cancer? Of course not. The proposition needs only to be stated for its inanity to be self-evident.

2. For many people, abortion is an issue of life or death. If one takes the view (as many Australians do), that life begins at conception, then abortion is morally equivalent to infanticide; as such it is not fundamentally about “what women do with their own bodies”, but “what women do with someone else’s body”. If there is an innocent life in need of protection, then all members of society are entitled to their view as to what measures should be taken as a matter of public policy to achieve that end. Agree or disagree, that is a valid view-point and those who hold it are entitled to state it; to ask why men comment on abortion is to fundamentally miss the point, and misunderstand the perspective from which many pro-life citizens approach the debate. The problem is that there is no real consensus as to the nature and moral status of the foetus and the commencement of life. The difficult question that many people have to confront, irrespective of whether they are pro-choice or pro-life, is “when does life begin?”. Almost everyone (except, perhaps Princeton’s Professor Singer) believes a child carried to full-term is worthy of protection by the law. From there the debate becomes difficult and murky, but I see no earthly reason why men do not have a right to contribute to that debate.

David

A sacrifice on the altar of convenience

Why shouldn’t abortion be commented on by the GG and government ministers?

Abortion is not simply an extension of a woman’s right to contraception; it is the taking of innocent life, a life sacrificed on the altar of convenience. A woman does have an absolute right to choose whether or not to get pregnant: in this day and age, there are more than enough means of contraception available to prevent conception. However, once that life has been formed, that life (an innocent life at that) deserves the protection of the state.

And why should the taxpayer fund something that is so morally repellent as this? This debate is not “inappropriate”; it’s long overdue.

While in no way advocating capital punishment, I find it incredibly disturbing that as a society we would never allow the guilty to be put to death but we’re happy to publicly fund the slaughter of the innocent. And, yes, I chose the word “slaughter” deliberately. Statistics show that infanticide (let’s call abortion what it really is not by some Orwellian misnomer) has reached plague-like proportions. I do hope (and pray) that this is stopped. Too many lives have been ruined by this, not only the lives of those babies who are snuffed out before their birth, but the lives of those who have gone through with this act and have suffered a lifetime of psychological damage.

Sometimes the right thing needs to be done, whether or not it is considered progressive, convenient or politically correct. Abortion is not a topic that exists in some sort of moral grey area: it is wrong. And for that reason comments by the GG or ministers or even HM the Queen herself are absolutely appropriate and, again, long overdue.

Regards
Nigel Pope

The bloke-driven abortion debate

Sorry cant help but respond to Nigel ‘The’ Pope. I think he has grievously misquoted my good friend Statistics Show. The reference to plague like proportions of abortions suggest Mr Pope has either been spending a bit of time wallowing in the old testament, or helping out on an election campaign somewhere like Ohio. I asked Mr Show his view and he told me that for every woman who has an abortion there’s 100% chance a bloke got his dick wet, and there’s something well short of a 100% chance the women was a willing participant. I know these misogynists like Abbott like to cling to the idea of virgin births, but it doesnt work like that in my world.

I’m sure the practices they indulged in at the seminary rarely ended with conception, but surely that’s something Abbott should keep to his pastoral discussions with the Cardinal, rather than inflict on the rest of us

Sean Kennedy
Annandale

Women are not baby-making machines

Abortion is a personal matter for women and something women don’t particularly want to think about if they don’t have to.

For millenia women have had to put up with patriarchal pontificaiton from men so this is just more of the same.

I think people like the GG are simply ignored as being old-fashioned. Women are not baby-making machines for infertile couples. Tony Abbott is ignored for being an ultra right-wing Catholic who spends far too much time hanging around George Pell. Even my ancient practicing Catholic mother thinks he’s a joke and supports abortion after rape etc (and she encouraged her daughters to go on the Pill).

Thanks for raising the issue of the male-dominated debate, Paula, and I think the Queensland Liberal chick has done admirably in conveying the issues.

Abortion is a choice that women don’t want to make. Fortunately I have never had to make the choice but I did take the “morning after” pills on two occasions during my reproductive years.

Keep up the good work as an alternative media voice.

Menopausal Millie

Immigration and the abortion debate

The GG makes the point that the number of abortions is on a par with our immigration quota, somewhat ironic given our recent history with immigration and the fact that quite a few refugees in Australia probably now wish they were never born.

He’s also come out rather strongly against terrorists (bold move) “It’s a bit hard to then go out and kill babies and blow people up with explosives if you believe in that philosophy.” (of love thy brother etc etc) Does that mean the “girls” (his words) who choose abortion are actually nasty terrorists and could potentially be prosecuted under anti-terrorist laws? Now there’s a way to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

Finally – MG Jeffery confirmed that China’s President, Hu Jintao, had invited him on a state visit next year, the first by an Australian Governor-General. Given China’s human rights history and the one child policy, does this mean that abortion is OK, so long as it’s dirty slant-eyed girl babies being subject to the vacuum?

MB

An open letter to Tony Abbott

I sent the following letter to Mr Tony ‘loose canon’ Abbott, the letters page at The Age and all my like minded friends the other day. It made me feel better:

Dear Mr Abbott

I am writing regarding your recent comments about late term abortions. I am a 34 year old woman, married, with one child, born within wedlock. The reason for the increasing number of late term abortions are women just like me, let me tell you why:

I am planning to have a second child within the next two years. I will be at least 36 when I am carrying this child, my doctor tells me this means a significantly increased risk of things going wrong. What if I find out my baby is deformed while in utero – will I have an abortion?

If I have the deformed child I know I would face a lifetime of emotional and financial pain. Would this baby be born only to live in constant pain and discomfort? What happens to this child when I die? How will my first child cope – will they have to shoulder the burden when I and my partner are dead? What if my marraige can not survive this strain and I am left on my own? What about my career?

I have enough trouble looking after one wonderful, healthy child. Although the thought fills me with fear and disgust, I would abort that child Mr Abbott. I don’t care about your self rightous moral and religous qualms – I do not share them. Further you have absolutely no right to impose them on me.

If your government try to stop me, or any other woman from exercising the right of life over her own body, we will rise up against you. And your ambitions for being Prime Minister then? You can forget it.

I look forward to your response.

Inger Mewburn

Making abortion illegal is not the way

When I was a young girl in the sixties, one of my friends had a backyard abortion. She was so butchered, that she was never able to have children. I am sure we don’t want to go back to these times. There must be more information on all types of contraception and information on the emotional scars that can happen when “accidents” happen.

Penelope Toltz

Adopting a male perspective

“Abortion is a personal issue to be managed by a doctor and his patient…”, writes Ruth from Gawler in SA. While I agree completely that abortion is a personal issue to be managed by a woman and her doctor, perhaps Ruth might like to consider that (1) these days, women are actually accepted into medical schools, and therefore, doctors are not ALL men and (2) the order she puts this in – managed by a doctor and “his patient” – is perhaps part of the attitude that men have control over women that gets us into the situation where men think they have a voice in whether or not women chose to carry a pregnancy to term.

Rebekka Power

The father deserves a say too

One quick question to the feminists who question men’s justification to enter the abortion debate: If a cording the Family Law Court a Man is financially responsible for his offspring when they are born till they start work, then surely he has a right to say if his unborn child lives or dies? Even though it takes “Two to Tango” the male has no say if his offspring are born or terminated.

Martin Flanagan
Echuca

The abortion issue

I will support the right of our male dominated government and clergy to try to impose their beliefs on abortion after and only after the following has occurred:

  • Single mothers are no longer demonised – in fact they are supported and appreciated. Let’s see the fathers who scarpered demonised instead.
  • Support services of at least adequate level are available to all children (and their families) born with disabilities – on throughout their entire lives (taking the edge off that fear of what will happen to them when Mum & Dad have gone!)
  • There is no such thing as homeless children as all children have access to a loving home, quality education etc. (whether through their families, church or state).
  • All children live above the poverty line.
  • Child abuse of all kinds has been stamped out of the institutions which are supposed to be there to care for the kids who could not be or were not cared for in their family homes. Yes, the institutions run by the very state and churches who are holier than thou on this and many other issues.
  • Penalties for child sexual abuse have increased radically – with added penalties for those in positions of “trust” with children – priests, teachers, counsellors etc, – all those people who are supposed to be protecting the very innocents they are abusing.
  • We no longer imprison children in detention centres – adding immeasurably to the distresses they have already suffered in their short lives.
  • We stop talking through our hats – there is no fail safe method of contraception other than abstinence. All these “in this day and age there’s no excuse for an unwanted pregnancy” prats have just been extremely lucky – I know women who have become pregnant while using IUDs, the pill, and condoms. Even after having their “tubes tied”, or partners having vasectomies.
  • Real efforts are made to help the children of other nations whose lives are hells we can’t even imagine.

When they can show they care about the born – then I will listen to them about the unborn. Abortion is an issue which can only be decided by the woman involved (or the couple if the man is interested) at the time of her life when the issue comes up. It should never be forced or restricted. It is an issue where only the right to make your own decision counts. I would imagine there are times in one woman’s life when she could decide to abort, and times when she couldn’t. But it is her decision to make.

Sue Hunt

Peter Fray

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