PRO-life advocates giving evidence to the Queensland parliamentary inquiry into legalising abortion have presented a case for mandatory counselling for women considering the procedure.
“I believe counselling should be mandatory and it should be independent counselling, not counselling at an abortion clinic,” Australian Christian Lobby state director Wendy Francis said.
“It needs to be independent. It needs to give a woman the true ability to make a choice and to empower that woman to make that choice.
“The majority of abortions happen when women are very young and these decisions are decisions that change your life.
“My personal position is that I am a Christian and I believe that God gives us all choices, so I believe that women should have every choice laid before them and they should be supported in the choices they can make.
“If I were caught in a trap and I had to get out of that trap and I chose to chop off my leg because I had to get out of that trap, I do not see that as a great choice to make.
“I think that most of the time women choose to have an abortion because they do not believe there is any other choice.
“If they choose to continue with their pregnancy, they should be supported absolutely in that.”
Cherish Life Queensland president Julie Borger told the inquiry that 35 states in the United States now had a woman’s right-to-know legislation, which meant that before an abortion a woman had to be given information about the harm to her and the baby, the stage of development of the baby, the method of abortion and the likelihood of damage or harm to future pregnancies.
“Women are required to receive counselling and know about the impact of that abortion on themselves and the unborn child,” Ms Borger said.
“In 25 states they are also being informed of the effects of abortion on future fertility.
“In 22 states there is a mandate that women are given counselling on the mental health effects of an abortion.
“Even in five states of America (including) Alaska there is a mandated responsibility for a woman to be informed of the correlation between abortion and breast cancer. I think informed decision-making is a very important aspect.”
Ms Francis said the parliamentary inquiry had highlighted a general view of “fuzziness” around whether or not the child in a womb was human and therefore deserved human rights.
She said the public was recently shocked after Health Minister Cameron Dick tabled evidence in parliament that last year 27 Queensland babies were born alive after late-term abortions and allowed to die.
This is more than one baby per fortnight.
“They are shocked because they see that this child being born prematurely is actually a human life,” Ms Francis told the inquiry.
“For me, I think the law is still very valuable because it states quite clearly that it is wrong to take an innocent human life.”
Pro-life advocates supported the “educative” nature of the existing law.
“It instructs society as to the seriousness of the act of abortion while the removal from the criminal law of any references to abortion would tell society that this form of intentional killing is morally trivial,” Australian Family Association’s Alan Baker said.
“The existing law protects Queensland women against rogue abortionists, just like the similar NSW law did in 2006 when Dr Suman Sood was convicted of illegal abortion in the NSW Supreme Court.
“More abortions would hurt more women.”
Cherish Life Queensland vice-president Dr Donna Purcell was asked whether the existing law was working considering there were 15,000 abortions per year.
“I think without it there would be a lot more,” she said.
“Any sort of law that we have adopted educates the public, whether it is something simple like wearing seat belts and safety helmets when driving or riding, or any forms of violence against people or stealing, for example.
“They all educate the public that the public good is served by not doing these things, as the end result is that if you do them you might go to jail.
“I believe the law has an educative role because many people look to the law, particularly if they have no other guidance in their life, as to how they should behave towards others.”
Ms Francis said she believed the inquiry into abortion law reform would serve to lift the public view.
“I think something good that would come out of this inquiry is a new understanding that the bill is there and the bill is right because it is a human life,” she said.
By Mark Bowling