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Thousands take to Brisbane streets to oppose abortion bills

Pro-life witness: Peter, Nancy, Rebecca, Isaac and James Webb, of Toowoomba, at the March for Life in Brisbane last Saturday.
Photo: Alan Edgecomb

THOUSANDS of pro-life marchers in Brisbane have piled the pressure on Queensland politicians to oppose a private member’s bill aimed at decriminalising abortion.

The people-power, pro-life message at the March for Life was clear – politicians and community leaders marched behind banners proclaiming “people deserve better than abortion”, mothers held babies and pushed strollers, and families delighted in the carnival atmosphere despite the stifling Saturday-afternoon heat.

Organisers described legislation to remove abortion from the Queensland criminal code, introduced by Member for Cairns Rob Pyne, as one of the “most extreme” abortion laws in the world.

More than 25,000 people have signed a petition to oppose his two proposed bills to be debated in Parliament in coming weeks and likely to be voted on by state parliament in early March.

Cherish Life Queensland president Julie Borger said the March for Life was “the most important march in Queensland’s history”.

Members represented the state-wide, pro-life organisation from regional Queensland as far afield as Cairns.

As they approached Parliament House, about 30 pro-abortion protesters chanted “keep your rosaries off our ovaries”.

Before marching down George Street, demonstrators heard from Australian Marriage Forum president David van Gend, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts and State Member for Cleveland Mark Robinson.

Dr van Gend recalled the experience of seeing his first child at just 13 weeks on ultrasound – a baby already recognisable inside the womb.

“Our son Robert’s life had begun, indeed he had already ‘come of age’, because at 13 weeks all the structures of the adult body are established and only need time to grow bigger,” he said.

“Every baby at 13 weeks is one of us, a member of the human family, and deserves the equal protection of law.”

Dr van Gend also recalled an experience, years ago, of holding a baby born prematurely at just 24 weeks.

“Most babies born at that age will survive in our hospital nurseries, but this baby was very small for her age – more the size of this 20-week baby. The specialist tried to insert a breathing tube, but that failed, and we knew she would not survive.

“At the mother’s request, her baby was quickly baptised by a nurse, wrapped in a tiny gown and laid on her mother’s breast where she made a few small sounds and then died.

“That, for all its sadness, is the right way to treat a tiny baby.”

Dr van Gend said the legislation now before Parliament was the wrong way to treat a tiny baby.

The two Pyne abortion bills would remove all restraint on the taking of the life of babies up to 24 weeks.

“These babies could be aborted for any reason, such as sex-selection (as we have seen in Victoria) and by any method, no matter how cruel,” Dr van Gend said. “And beyond 24 weeks, his bills give no effective restraint on abortion right up to the day of birth.”

Under Mr Pyne’s proposed legislation, women more than 24 weeks pregnant could only have an abortion if their doctors reasonably believed continuing the pregnancy would involve greater risk of physical or mental injury than if it was terminated.

“If you read his second bill, there are only two conditions on this late-term abortion license – first, the doctor must put hand on heart and say there is greater risk to the woman by continuing the pregnancy than by having an abortion,” Dr van Gend said.

“Second, the doctor must get another doctor to agree. But, get this – in the small print at the bottom of the legislation there is a ‘get out of jail free’ card for the doctor.”

Senator Roberts told the pro-life rally abortion was part of an “anti-life agenda” led by the United Nations.

“This abortion push is part of that anti-life agenda,” he said.

Senator Roberts said human civilisation was “based on the nation state and the family unit” and the government had a responsibility to protect life, property and freedom.

Dr Robinson said Mr Pyne’s proposed legislation was “the most dangerous abortion legislation in the western world” and he would oppose it at every level.

“It was lobbed like a grenade into the Parliament with little thought and now waits to explode,” he said.

“If detonated, these bills will wreak havoc on expectant mums, on babies and upon our legal and our health systems.”

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