Right to Life Association
of South Australia
Abortion - what is it?
Advocates maintain that some persons should be terminated because they are unwanted, unplanned, imperfect or are not properly productive.
Wherever and whenever the respect for human life is cheapened and diminished, there is an educational effect upon that culture and society. This has happened in Australia. In around 30 years the rate of abortion has escalated to the point where there is now one abortion for every three live births.
Abortion is the killing of a human being. It is the termination of a unique life in which individuality is inherent and real in the genetic programming from the time of fertilisation. Unique adult characteristics are already determined.
The unborn does have and must have rights. This is recognised by legislation in some states and other parts of the world, in that the unborn has rights in cases of assault or accident to the mother.
The consequences of terminating a pregnancy have been minimised by abortion proponents. The medical risk to the woman is probably low, but includes haemorrhage and infection that may be fatal. There are numerous studies showing a long-term association with breast cancer that cannot be dismissed.
There are consequences to the mental well-being of the mother. Agony can be felt decades into the future. It is not always possible to continue to deny the reality that a child has been killed. There are consequences in relationships with the current partner and future partners of those involved in an abortion. There are consequences to our spirit, unless we are totally successful in denying the spiritual component of our being.
The vast majority of women who make a decision to go through with an unwanted pregnancy have no doubt that they have made the right choice for themselves as well as the baby. Abortion is seen as a solution to many social problems such as child abuse. Instead, child abuse has increased dramatically – estimates range between 40% and 300%. According to researchers, an estimated 4 out of every 10 children are either emotionally or physically abused, even though we have prevented the birth of about 5 million unwanted children in Australia since 1970.
On average, one unborn Australian child dies by abortion every 6 minutes.
An estimated 80,000 - 100,000 abortions are performed annually in Australia: 4% for medical reasons, the remainder for socio-economic reasons, including ‘convenience’, ‘cost of bringing up the child’, and ‘career or studies.’ The government finances around 80,000 abortions through direct Medicare payments of over $6 million. Many abortions are not claimed on Medicare to maintain privacy.
Abortion makes the greatest impact of all on the demographic structure of a country. The birth rates in all Western countries are at the lowest levels on record. We are reaching zero population growth. This is a biological impossibility because of the inexorable ageing of the population. It is merely a moment in the country’s history when the falling curve of the birth rate crosses the rising death rate line on a graph. A corollary of this is zero economic growth. It makes a dying country.
The preborn is referred to as a parasite, a lump, a ‘glob of tissue’. In fact, it is the woman’s child, as much like her as any child she will ever have, sharing her appearance, talents and family tree. In abortion, she offers her own child as a sacrifice for the right to avoid change in her life, and it is a sacrifice that will haunt her. She can lose her health.
In addition to the women who experience a punctured womb or are killed on abortion tables, there are more subtly damaging effects. The cervix is designed to open gradually over several days at the end of pregnancy. In many abortions the cervix is wrenched open in a matter of minutes. The delicate muscle fibres can be damaged – a damage that may go unnoticed until she is far into a later, wanted pregnancy, and then they give way in a miscarriage. By some estimates, the aborted woman’s chance of later miscarriages doubles.
The last loss is of her peace of mind. Planned Parenthood have conceded that as many as 90% of aborted women may experience trauma after abortion.
If we were to imagine a society that truly supported and respected women, we would have to begin with preventing unplanned pregnancies. Preventing unplanned pregnancies will involve a return to sexual responsibility, using commonsense to enable us to think situations through and make appropriate decisions to protect ourselves and plan for our children’s lives. Contraceptives fail and half of all aborting women admit they weren’t using them at the time.
Abortion laws in Australia
“In our tradition of the law, law has always been a great educator. A law channels behaviour, it educates, it tells the confused and the uncertain and the frightened what the community thinks is good. And if the law tells the confused, the uncertain and the frightened that abortion is good, abortion will follow.”
There exists the fiction in English law that the unborn child is not a legal person.
This stance makes it hard to justify the fact that an unborn child once born can claim under an estate, can sue in respect of the death of a parent, can claim workers’ compensation in respect of the death of his or her father, can sue for injuries in a motor accident before birth. Where a person injures an unborn child so that after birth the child dies of injuries suffered, the person who injured the unborn child is guilty of a criminal offence. For this reason, Justice Gillard in the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1972 recognised the unborn child as a legal person.
The law in Australia
Abortion is the subject of criminal law in all Australian states and territories, except the Australian Capital Territory. Each state and territory has legislation prohibiting unlawful abortion.
Victorian abortion laws allow abortion ‘on-demand’ (without reason) up to 24 weeks, and abortion right up until birth, including partial-birth abortion, with signatures from just two doctors (which may be two abortionists and hence easy to obtain).
The NSW Crimes Act 1900 says that unlawfully procuring an abortion is an offence punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years, and unlawfully supplying “any drug or noxious thing, or any instrument or thing whatsoever” for the purpose of procuring an abortion is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years.
The Criminal Codes of Qld and Tasmania provide for penalties of up to 14 years’ gaol for those performing abortions and 7 years for those obtaining them. They contain a proviso that abortion is not illegal if performed to save the mother’s life.
SA and NT allow for abortions to be performed in public hospitals in specified circumstances, such as danger to the woman’s mental health and substantial risk that the child would be seriously handicapped.
In Western Australia, provisions relating to abortion are found in the Criminal Code and the Health Act. Abortion is legal if performed before 20 weeks gestation, with further limitations for women under 16.
In 1969, Davidson’s Case, Justice Menhennitt in the Supreme Court of Victoria held that “for an abortion to be performed unlawfully, the Crown must establish either the accused did not honestly believe on reasonable grounds that the act done by him was necessary to preserve the woman from a serious danger to her life or physical or mental health (not being merely the normal dangers of pregnancy and childbirth) which the continuance of the pregnancy would entail; or the act done by him was in the circumstances proportionate to the need to preserve the woman from a serious danger as above.”
This decision can be said to be the most decisive Australian case on abortion. In1972, R v Wald and Others, Mr Justice Levine of the District Court of NSW followed the ruling of Justice Menhennit but also added economic or social reasons during the pregnancy as providing grounds for a danger to the mother’s health.
Since these cases, governments in most states have effectively condoned abortion on demand at all stages of pregnancy by allowing abortion clinics to operate as private profit-making businesses, and the courts have consistently upheld the ‘right’ of the mother to terminate her pregnancy.