LABOR appears headed for political backlash after backing a push to make more abortion services freely available across Australia as part of its federal election platform.
Pro-life advocates have promised to campaign against members of parliament who supported abortion policies at the coming federal election, and to actively support pro-life MPs.
“Using more taxpayer money to further fund the killing of unborn babies is an abrogation of the first duty of government, which is to protect innocent human life,” Cherish Life Queensland executive director Teeshan Johnson said.
“MPs and candidates of this extreme abortion mindset do not deserve to be in government, and we will be doing all we can to keep them out of government, and cause them to lose their seats to pro-life politicians.”
Labor announced a national sexual and reproductive health strategy aimed at widening access to contraception and abortion.
A major plank of this policy is to “support all women to access termination services in public hospitals”.
The federal Opposition’s Health spokeswoman Catherine King and Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek said a new funding agreement between a Labor government and the states and territories would “expect that termination services will be provided consistently in public hospitals”.
“This is critical to end the patchwork of service provision in Australia,” a joint statement said.
Reports said Ms King’s office phoned leaders from the Catholic health sector to assure them that a Labor government would not withhold funding from Catholic hospitals refusing to perform terminations on religious grounds.
A spokesman for St Vincent’s Health Australia said the sector was confident nothing would change for their facilities.
Pro-life advocate and Emily’s Voice chief executive officer Paul O’Rourke described the Labor women’s health policy as “a stunning show of blind hypocrisy”, including the plan to widen access to free abortions through public hospitals, to establish a national phone referral service, and bring down the cost of abortion drug RU486.
“The party committed to closing the gender pay gap, seeing more women in parliament, on boards and in senior leadership positions, wants to end the lives of more little women through arguably the world’s most radical and dangerous abortion laws,” Mr O’Rourke said. “It seems 70,000 annual abortions is just not enough for a political party who wants women of any age to access abortions for any reason, at any time.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Coalition Government would release its women’s health policy soon. He raised doubts about Labor’s ability to enact this policy – particularly as abortion had not been decriminalised in two states – New South Wales and South Australia.
“To be clear – access to termination services is a state and territory responsibility, and the Australian Government has no constitutional powers in this area,” Mr Hunt said.
Ms Johnson has urged “all who respect human life to get involved, and put Labor last this election”. She said pro-abortion lobby claims that the number of abortions would not increase if they were made free and even more accessible defied logic, the laws of economics and international trends.
“The way to decrease abortion rates is through education, better social supports and services for pregnant women like counselling, as well as adoption reform – none of these practical pro-woman measures are in Labor’s brutal policy platform,” Ms Johnson said.