Teens and Women at Risk, say Pro-Lifers, as Bill to Legalise Abortion Heads for QLD Parliament
by Clare Bruce
Teen girls younger than 16 could be pressured into abortion without their parents ever knowing, and mums-to-be could terminate their late-term baby without knowing the risks, if the so-called Pyne Bills are supported in QLD parliament from next week.
Those are the fears of pro-life groups, as Cairns MP Robert Pyne’s proposed Woman’s Right to Choose and Abortion Law Reform bills are set for debate in Parliament on March 1.
While abortion is currently illegal in Queensland, unless there is serious danger to the mother’s life or her physical or mental health, the Pyne Bill seeks to decriminalise it completely, with voting set for Wednesday, March 1.
Anti-abortion campaigners are urging pro-life supporters to have their say in the last days before the vote.
No safeguards on women or babies
In an interview with Brisbane’s 96five, Andrew Smith from the pro-life organisation Cherish Life, described the proposed reform as an open season on unborn babies.
“There really are no safeguards, no limits,” he said. “You can decide the day before you’re going to give birth, ‘I can’t cope, because I’ve been told that, therefore I’ll have an abortion. And it would be perfectly legal. Or you can just change your mind and go, ‘We know from the ultrasound it’s a girl; we’d rather have a boy and gender-balance our family’.”
Mr Pyne’s second bill also seeks to criminalise protest within 50 metres of an abortion clinic. Andrew Smith believes this is a contravention of the right to peaceful assembly.
“You could be the boyfriend or husband saying, ‘I want to support you, don’t go ahead with the abortion’ – and that act could be criminalised,” Mr Smith said. “You could be arrested, fined or sent to jail.”
The law is there to protect women, say pro-lifers
While the Pyne Bill intends to remove the risk of women being penalised or jailed, Mr Smith says that risk doesn’t really exist as no woman has ever actually been jailed or fined for having an abortion.
He believes it’s far more important to keep the law in place, to protect women from being pressured into an abortion against their will.
“If abortion should be decriminalised, that would remove the defense that a woman can currently give saying it’s illegal. And that’s really helpful if you’re under duress or pressure,” he said. “The law also has an educational role in the culture. It conveys the message that abortion is a really bad thing.”
“One of the big reasons I wouldn’t want to see this decriminalised is, it makes it even easier and perfectly legal, for the evidence of a sexual crime – say, involving an underage girl and an older man – to be effectively destroyed and thrown away through an abortion. And that underage girl would certainly be under duress and under pressure and not an equal in that position.”
Late term rule is a con job, says Cherish Life
When it comes to late-term pregnancies, the Pyne legislation aims to prevent women from aborting at more than 24 weeks unless two doctors agree that continuing the pregnancy would put them at greater risk of physical or mental injury.
But Cherish Life has labelled that a con job and says it is a weak provision.
Spokesman Chris Da Silva told News.com.au that “there is no penalty for that safeguard if the doctor doesn’t consult another doctor he doesn’t get in trouble.”
The devastating risks of abortion
Although the Parliamentary Inquiry report claims that abortion is safer than childbirth, there is peer-reviewed scientific research revealing both mental and physical risks.
“Psychologically, it’s devastating,” Andrew Smith told Brisbane’s 96five. “You never forget that pregnancy. Five years later you’ll be going, ‘my child would be starting school’. And because it’s not easy to talk about it, you actually need to actively, mentally suppress it.”
“The rate of people with mental health problems increases. And both suicide and suicide ideation goes up 600 per cent when compared to the regular population. To say that it’s safer than childbirth is complete and utter rubbish. This is research that’s gone through scrutiny.”
Mr Smith also outlined some of the physical outcomes, ranging from haemorrhaging and reduced fertility, to complete infertility when an abortion gone wrong results in a hysterectomy.
Abortion gone wrong
Media reports of abortion injuries are rarely seen, but the Canberra Times published an article by Melinda Tankard Reist detailing the tragic story of Sarah, a young woman who was pressured and treated poorly inside a Brisbane abortion clinic.
Her procedure went terribly wrong, and she was rushed to hospital where her organs had to be repaired and the body parts of her dead baby removed.
Sarah developed a morphine addiction as a result, and her mother who witnessed the tragedy, developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and became suicidal.
Why aren’t women properly warned?
Mr Smith believes it’s appalling that women are not told of the risks of abortion.
“In any other surgical procedure they make sure you know everything about it beforehand, what the possible complications are with abortion it’s just this incredible contravention of everything we know,” he said. There is no full disclosure and in fact if people knew the consequences and likely outcomes, you just wouldn’t go ahead.
“If there was any other medical procedure that had the dire fallout, physically and mentally like this does – you’d just ban the procedure.”
“This really gets down to the heart of the abortion industry. This isn’t a charitable act. This is a for-profit, private business running a private clinic and people who turn away, whether it’s because they’ve been offered help in front of the clinic or because they’ve discovered more about the procedure, that’s bad for business.”
He said pro-life groups didn’t want to judge women, but to help protect them.
“The last thing we ever want to do is give women a hard time for having had abortion,” he said. “What we do want to do is save others from falling into that trap.”
Mr Smith added that teenage girls are also more vulnerable under the Pyne Bill, because they can be sent off under this law without their parents knowing.
“There’s no requirement for parental notification. It can even be kept secret from the parents,” he said.
Why men shouldn’t stay out of the abortion debate.
When challenged about the rights of men to moralise on abortion when it is women who are affected, Mr Smith is unapologetic.
“If you were deciding you wanted to amputate an arm, then ok, yes that’s your body,” he said. “But when there’s another person involved, namely the baby, it’s no longer your body. It’s somebody else’s body.”
“The truth is that men are the other half of the equation when it comes to pregnancy occurring. And part of being a man is to defend women and protect children. And doing that, especially for the most vulnerable – unborn babies – that’s the least that you can do as a bloke.
While Andrew Pyne has argued that “It’s not 1899, abortion shouldn’t be a crime”, the pro-life group Abortion Rethink has turned his words around, using them as a hashtag, #itsnot1899, accompanied by crystal clear imagery of a baby in the womb.
They make the point that modern science is increasingly revealing the amount of life in a child in a womb, giving even more reason to protect unborn children.
But do Queenslanders want abortion?
A Galaxy opinion poll from 2016 has shown that 84 per cent of Queenslanders believe abortion harms women’s health, and that 87 per cent would support a cooling-off period. The figures also show that most Queenslanders are against both mid-term and late-term abortions, and believe that an unborn baby is a person with a life.
Mr Smith believes these figures prove that abortion is plain unpopular and he wants Queensland residents to have their say by representing their views to their local MP.