AN Australian Labor Party push to deprive its members in the Queensland Parliament of their right to vote according to their conscience on the decriminalisation of abortion has been criticised by Cherish Life Queensland.
A pro-abortion group within the ALP, Labor for Choice, is pushing for this change to the party platform at the next national conference in July.
“Freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right under international law,” Cherish Life Queensland president Julie Borger said.
Mrs Borger said a push to bind Labor MPs to vote in favour of abortion also took away from their duty to fairly represent the wishes of their constituents.
“We know that people do not want more abortion,” she said, pointing to the findings of a YouGovGalaxy opinion poll commissioned by the Australian Family Association and Abortion Rethink in February.
“The poll showed that decriminalisation is not a vote-winner, with thirty-two per cent of Queenslanders less likely to vote for a pro-abortion MP, compared to eighteen per cent who would be more likely to do so.”
The YouGovGalaxy research showed that in Queensland 62 per cent of recipients agreed that an unborn child at 23 weeks was a person with rights, 60 per cent opposed mid-term abortions past 13 weeks, and 73 per cent opposed late-term abortions past 23 weeks.
“Only five per cent of recipients said abortion should be on demand at any stage of pregnancy, which is how the situation is in Victoria,” Mrs Borger said.
“So we actually know that this is not what the people of Queensland want.
“So to push for Labor parliamentarians to have to bind together on a vote on abortion, to legalise something their constituents don’t want, is farcical in a democratic society.”
Mrs Borger urged pro-lifers to encourage their Labor members of State Parliament to continue to support conscientious objection for votes on “life” issues.
The Labor for Choice group has been running for more than a year in the lead-up to Labor’s national conference in July.
Mrs Borger said the group’s claim that abortion was “difficult to access” was a lie.
“It is widely accepted that up to 14,000 abortions occur in Queensland each year under the current law,” she said.
“Decriminalisation inevitably would mean even more abortions, which would mean more women being harmed and more lives being destroyed.”
Mrs Borger said Labor for Choice only pretended to be “pro-women” and “pro-choice”, as the group was opposed to independent counselling and informed-consent protections for women.
“These extremists who oppose informed-consent laws want to impose just one choice on women,” she said.
“Women deserve better than abortion.”
State chapters of Labor for Choice have been tackling the abortion issue with a different emphasis in each jurisdiction – the focus in Queensland is on decriminalisation; in Western Australia it is safe access zones; and in the ACT, full public provision.
The Queensland Law Reform Commission is considering more than 1200 submissions into possible abortion law reform after the Queensland Labor Government referred two bills – the so-called Pyne Bills – introduced into the Queensland Parliament aimed at decriminalising and regulating abortion.