1 Feb 2005, Comments (0)

US gets a cold, Australia sneezes

Author: Helen

The abortion “debate” (read anti-abortion campaign) is off and running. Wake up and smell the dishonesty.

Watch out for organisations with confidence-inspiring names like “Foundation for Human Development” (a front for the NSW Right to Life) and “Pregnancy Counselling Australia” (also a RTL front). No, I’m not saying RTL has no right to exist and air their opinions, but why the coyness about using their real name? Why the sneaking around? Well, maybe it’s so you can (in the case of Pregnancy Counselling Australia) attract vulnerable young women on the basis of a White Pages ad, without your opponents noticing.

Well, not for a while, anyway. Just keep an eye out for spokespeople from these organisations and others in the paper and on the radio. Hope for an articulate, well coordinated opposition. Fair and balanced?

Prepare for some outrageous massaging of statistics, too. We already have an abortion “epidemic”; Women are just whipping ’em out with incredible ease and callousness; Many of these are gruesome late term abortions with perfectly cute little bubs left mewling feebly in kidney dishes.

Fortunately, the reality is very different. But we know that won’t stop the lobbyists, and they can be very convincing – remember WMD?

Why don’t I supply alternative statistics? Because there aren’t any good accurate figures on abortion in Australia. Besides numerous problems such as collecting data in private clinics versus the public system, there are only statistics on the medical procedures surrounding abortion. Therefore, the “epidemic” that Mr Boswell and the right to lifers are so upset about includes curettages and other processes that are carried out when a woman miscarries.

So, the “epidemic” includes procedures that are “abortion” in a narrow medical sense but not in the sense the right-to-lifers use.

Despite the dearth of information on earlier abortion, we can say that the continual focus in the media on late term abortion is a crock: these abortions are by far the rarest and are only carried out in circumstances where they are the only option. (Yes, you’ll always find one abuse; there’s the single example of the woman who had a late term abortion because her baby was affected by dwarfism; I disagreed with her decision. Any other examples?)

If you follow Alas, a Blog and other feminist or political blogs you will be familiar with the resurgence of the “abortion debate” (read, push to restrict or eliminate abortion driven by the religious Right) in the US. And if you noticed the new resurgence of the religious Right in Australia since the last election, you won’t be surprised Australia is catching the virus.

At first I was heartened by the fact that Howard and other prominent social conservative Liberals seemed unenthusiastic about a change in abortion laws (insofar as Medicare rebates are concerned that is – that’s the only power the Feds have.) But then I heard this. Does this mean they know a change in abortion laws isn’t necessary – this kind of “reform” will guarantee they will get what they want anyway?

This could be interesting. Too interesting. We need to wade into this if necessary, for our daughters’ sake.

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