Crikey has done a great job covering one side of the abortion debate.
But it should not be assumed that the answer to perceived legal uncertainties in Queensland — as a result of the tragic Cairns abortion case — is Victorian-style open-slather law reform.
Pro-abortion advocates such as Crikey correspondent Caroline de Costa and Queensland Senator Claire Moore have used the police prosecution of 19-year-old Tegan Simone Leach for procuring her own abortion with illegally imported RU486 as emotional leverage to push for abortion on demand nationwide, and so obviate necessary debate.
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, while holding a self-confessed liberal view on abortion, has rightly resisted this in her state, preferring to look at minor amendments to the Criminal Code, which would clarify the law with regards to so-called “medical abortion”.
Such an amendment seeks to retain the legal status quo and would not break faith with her election-eve commitment not to reform Queensland’s abortion laws. This position is much closer to the mainstream view on abortion than de Costa’s or Moore’s.
An example of how out of step Moore is was her over-reach at a Senate inquiry last year into Medicare funding of late-term abortion.
She told the inquiry on behalf of 41 of her colleagues that public funding of the abortion of disabled babies saved money later on from the disability services budget.
When made aware of these eugenic views, several of her colleagues on the Parliamentary Group on Population and Development immediately distanced themselves.
WA Seantor Alan Eggleston resigned from the PGPD in protest.
Queensland Senator Ron Boswell told Parliament that Moore’s views were reminiscent of the Hitler regime.
While recoiling from Moore’s eugenics, paradoxically Australians seem to support the right of a woman to terminate the life of her unborn baby but are nevertheless deeply uncomfortable with the practice.
One of the features of the RU486 conscience debate in federal Parliament in 2005 was the agreement by pro choice MPs and Senators that, at 100,000 per year, there are too many abortions in Australia.
The 2005 market facts survey in Queensland revealed that 67% of Australians were opposed to abortion in the second trimester.
This is why the Victorian Parliament’s decriminalisation of abortion last year, without allowing any amendments, was so controversial and in effect undemocratic. Victorian politicians legalised abortion for any reason up to 24 weeks. This is older than the premature babies being saved in our hospitals.
If two doctors sign-off, an abortion can occur in Victoria right up to birth including by brutal partial birth abortion — a practice banned by the US Government on humanitarian grounds.
When pro-abortionists appealed the ban in 2006, the US Supreme Court sided with the politicians and upheld the ban.
In Queensland, the home of long-time partial birth abortion practitioner and advocate Dr David Grundman, it is unlikely this would find its way into Queensland law reform as it did in Victoria.
Not content with open-slather abortion, the Victorian Parliament also took a jackboot approach to resistance.
It imposed a clause in the legislation forcing doctors and nurses who have a conscientious objection to refer patients to someone who will perform an abortion.
Bligh must know that what the Victorian Parliament did was draconian and out of step with Australians’ thinking on abortion.
It seems she also knows that the quality of debate on abortion is likely to be higher in the Queensland Parliament and that instead of achieving the holy grail of abortion on demand, advocates are likely to kick an own goal.
A debate in the Parliament, she says, would likely lead to greater restrictions on abortion than that which is allowed under the Common Law. (This is an interesting commentary on the pro-choice view of parliamentary democracy.)
The advent of ultrasound and now 4-D colour ultrasound and greater awareness generally of human life in the womb is leading to a turning of public opinion. (It seems a fetus is not just a blob of tissue after all).
For the first time a majority of Americans have told the Gallup opinion poll that they are pro-life.
Bligh’s integrity in seeking to honour the spirit of her election commitment — given at a time when her Government had been written off — is commendable. The political impasse on abortion in Queensland shows that there is still a debate to be had in this country about the human rights of the unborn.
Jim Wallace is managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby.