ABORTION would be treated as a trivial procedure despite the surgical risks and great personal significance, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has written in response to the latest Abortion Reform Bill introduced into the Queensland Parliament.
The Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016 is the second piece of reform legislation introduced this year by abortion advocate Member for Cairns Rob Pyne.
His earlier bill, aimed at decriminalising abortion, was put to the Parliamentary Health Committee, but the Committee recommended it not be passed.
His second bill would widen access to abortion clinics.
Archbishop Coleridge said in his submission to the Committee: “It is true that the majority of the population believe that women should have access to abortion, but it is also true that there is preference for women to have real and immediate access to alternatives to abortion”.
“Even among those who support abortion in principle, many do not support it other than for medical reasons.
“A recent Galaxy Poll in Queensland found that 72 per cent of Queenslanders are opposed to abortion after three months.
“Abortion is a procedure with surgical risks and great personal significance.
“The complete deregulation of abortion up to 24 weeks as embodied in this Bill does not meet the minimal standards of care for women’s health.”
Archbishop Coleridge’s submission is one of more than 1000 lodged with the Committee for evaluation and available for viewing on the parliamentary website.
In a submission from the Catholic Medical Guild of St Luke, president Dr Terrence Kent criticised the Bill’s narrow definition of abortion as “causing a woman’s miscarriage by (a) administering a drug, (b) using an instrument or (c) any other means”.
“It is flawed as it is an incomplete understanding of what abortion is,” Dr Kent said
“If this proposed legislation is enacted, then an unborn baby will have no rights. No rights at all.
“Likewise, the father of an unborn baby will have no rights regarding the life of his unborn child.”
Dr Kent also addressed the section of the Bill which deals with a woman’s consent to proceed with abortion after 24 weeks if two doctors reasonably believe “… the continuation of the woman’s pregnancy would involve greater risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the woman than if the pregnancy were terminated…”
“At 24 weeks of gestation, a baby can exist outside of the mother’s womb,” he said.
“The media marvels at miracle babies who are born early and show great resilience to survive and even thrive.
“If this legislation is passed, it will mean that babies will be killed in utero or on delivery that will be older than babies living in the homes of their parents or in the nurseries of our maternity hospitals.”
Knights of the Southern Cross submission by Queensland chairman Vincent Granahan said as a statewide organisation of 30 branches it upheld the belief that human life began from the moment of conception, “and we are therefore opposed in principle to legitimising abortion on demand in any form”.
Right To Life Australia’s submission advocates strengthening the law to protect the lives of unborn babies and provide greater support for mothers.
“Women with problems need to be referred to counselling and support services,” it said.
“When they are pregnant and at their most vulnerable, they are sometimes abandoned by those they expected to care for them – the father of the child, their family, their employer.
“No mother should be coerced into abortion because it suits everyone else.
“Women should be able to study, work and have children, not have to choose between these activities.”
Dr Kent said a proposal in the bill to create “safe zones” around abortion clinics would remove the opportunity for peaceful protest, which he described as “a great Queensland and Australian tradition”.
“Indeed, only a few decades ago, proud Queenslanders sought the right to protest and to march in the streets of our cities… Do we really want to step back and remove the rights of peaceful citizens?” he said.
By Mark Bowling