British Conservative Party leader Michael Howard has kick-started an abortion debate in the UK with the observation that abortions are too easy to obtain in Britain and should be curbed. Is this wedgemeister Lynton Crosby at work?

In an interview published in the UK edition of Cosmopolitan this week, Howard complains that women are effectively now able to get abortion “on demand” – the rallying cry of pro-lifers, who argue that legal safeguards designed to prevent abortions for frivolous reasons are being ignored, says the The Observerhere – and pledges to cut the legal time limit for late abortions from the current 24 weeks to 20, except in cases of serious handicap or risk to the mother’s life.

Will it kick off another round of debate here? Will Australian MPs – heaven forbid – soon have to start clearly articulating their positions and making rational arguments? Watch out for that sincere, concerned expression on Danna Vale’s face. There’s an “even if” angle here, too. British abortion laws were updated in 1990. Australian termination legislation is largely based on much older British acts. The UK is entering another period of review while Australia hasn’t even made it to 1990 in the reform process.

Politicians are incredibly secretive about their views on abortion, so stay alert. Who can spot the hypocrite – and who can spot the MP who doesn’t get the difference between church and state? You’ll find more on this from the Parliamentary Library here.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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