Noted North Dakota pro-life state legislator Bette Grande was the keynote speaker at the Right to Life Australia Conference in Melbourne on August 24 and 25. Mrs Grande visited Brisbane where she spoke to PAUL DOBBYN before addressing a public gathering on her successes in authoring bills to challenge her state’s liberal abortion laws.
Question: What is your perception of the abortion laws in Australia?
Answer: From what I’ve been able to find out and have heard in conversation, abortions are far easier to obtain out here than in some states of the United States. I’m hearing about Victoria and Tasmania in particular being pretty wide open.
Part of what I’m gathering is the laws on the books are not necessarily being followed and that trend is something we’re seeing in the United States which is very disheartening.
Question: It would probably only take one test case if they could establish the laws had been broken.
Answer: You would hope so, but what’s interesting in talking about what’s been seen in the US and I don’t know how much the press picked up.
But there was in Pennsylvania a Doctor (Kermit) Gosnell in the past year who was breaking every law there is and yes, he’s in jail now for three murders plus other issues…but it still seems to be not fazing those who perform abortions illegally.
They’ve just run across the same type of clinic in Texas…there’s a couple of other places too. There just seems to be a very hardened heart out there against calling it for what it is.
Question: How are these cases being dug out?
Answer: It is pro-life organisations.
There’s a neat little group started by a young lady who goes undercover into abortion clinics and is finding out some of this information.
Others are when women report to the local hospital for further care because of lack of proper care at the abortion facility and damage to the women’s bodies that show up.
Question: And these are resulting from legal abortion clinics?
Answer: Yes. Supposedly legal although late term abortion in many states are not legal but are still being carried out.
A lot of the information coming to the forefront is the inaccurate information the abortion facilities are willing to say to the women to convince them they should go through with the abortion – saying that it isn’t really a life, there is no pain, saying there is no heartbeat, there is nothing on these critical issues that are proven factually.
Question: There’s a heartbeat from how many weeks?
Answer: Six weeks. Five and a half weeks you can start to detect. Six weeks it’s pretty solid.
Question: If you were an Australian seeking to change the abortion laws to protect the unborn, how might you go about it?
Answer: I think that what’s very, very important is that the people themselves understand. First and foremost one of things that needs to be done, as I talk to the people in Australia, is to understand there is a life in the womb. I think we’ve gotten far away from that in our society.
I think the US is same as Australia – we have forgotten that in the womb is a life. In the womb is that beating heart; in the womb is that child who feels pain.
It is a child. Don’t allow society in its ills to convince you otherwise. We need to re-educate the masses that it isn’t a choice between whether or not you want to stay pregnant.
It’s a choice about whether this life has meaning enough to come to term.
That beating heart should be allowed to continue to birth. We shouldn’t tell the woman this is not a life. Let’s be honest with women. The women have a right to know what is in the womb. And that it is a living child.
They also need to be told, and this is the part that tears at my heart, women should be told and need to be told all of the side effects that come with abortion – increased rate of breast cancer, the mental health issues, increased suicide, drug abuse, alcoholism…all of these are side effects of these abortions and they have to be told this is the situation.
Question: How did you get involved in this movement?
Answer: I was pro-life from birth is what my mother would say. That’s all I ever was; that’s all I’ve ever known. I would speak out on it early in life and my mother was always amazed. All my life all I’ve ever wanted was to be a mum.
Question: The MP you met today, what was his name and what led you to him?
Answer: Mark Robinson. He’s from the Liberal Party (Member for Cleveland). I was asked if I could go visit with him. So many things when I arrived were organised for me. I had asked, since I’m a legislator, to meet other legislators when I arrived.
Question: So are you giving him some strategies or ideas?
Answer: Yes, a little bit about that. He wanted to know how it works in the US and where we are progressing to and from. And where do I get my background information and how he might be able to do the same type of thing in Australia. Some of the stuff I utilise in my testimony is very universal – the heartbeat bill, the pain bill and various other things.
We’ve used National Geographic’s film…it’s such a wonderful aid.
The discussion then turned to the situation in North Dakota where Bette Grande’s so-called “heartbeat and prenatal non-discrimination bills” have passed through the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The first bill is aimed at preventing abortion once a heartbeat is detected. The second bill aims to prevent abortions based on such issues as gender and disability.
The bills were signed by Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple and were to become law. However, the bills currently have an injunction placed against them by lawyers acting on behalf of abortion clinic operators. A Federal Court judge or judges will rule on the constitutionality of the bills.
Mrs Grande said “because the bills are such a big challenge to the landmark Roe V Wade case (passed in 1973 liberalising access to abortion across the US) they would most likely be voted down”. However, she said her attorney, in this case the Attorney-General, would appeal it in the Supreme Court. Mrs Grande believes the bills will eventually become law but may take up to two years to get passed.
Question: So what sort of arguments would be put up in support of the bills?
Answer: We do know what that the justices are really looking at one of the portions of Roe v Wade was a statement that each of the individual states was to look at the health and safety of the mothers. And in this bill (the heartbeat bill) we have included breast cancer information, mental health arguments.
Question: And if it was to overthrow Roe v Wade that would affect every state in America like a domino effect?
Answer: Absolutely. It would affect every state. They would have to go back and look at what they’ve got on the books and adhere to what the ruling is and move from there.
Question: What’s your message to those opposing making Australia’s abortion laws more liberal?
Answer: To those who are in favour of what we are doing in saving the lives of the unborn children, don’t lose heart.
Number one – we have truth on our side, in that we know there’s a life in the womb and that life is precious and it is worth the fight.
Also be supportive of your MPs and be very vocal of them so they understand they have pro-life supporters all across the state.
Once they understand that their constituency wants them to be pro-life they will be more pro-life.
But until they have that support it’s hard for them to step up. Nothing was more precious to me as a legislator going through this process than to receive emails and phone calls stating: “We appreciate what you are doing. Thank you for supporting the life of the unborn child.
Also important is to know we’re fighting for women. They have a right to know what’s going on. We’ve been lied to as women far, far too long. It’s wrong to know the medical field would lie to us about what an abortion really is.