Abortion is an important, safe human right that should be protected, promoted and accessible to all Queensland women, declares the Queensland Law Reform Commission.
The Commission begins its abortion law review by saying regulations need to be modernised to reflect community standards, bring Qld into line with other jurisdictions and remove all legal, medical, social and ethical obstacles so women can exercise their reproductive freedoms in peace without interference.
These form the critical “whys” behind the “hows” of the 324-page Review of Termination of Pregnancy Laws report recommendations.
The Commission says:
Abortion is a health concern and not a criminal issue.
Women are travelling too far to get an abortion and paying too much.
Queensland women and abortion providers need reassurance, certainty and safeguards.
Not enough abortions are being performed in public hospitals.
Religious nutters are upsetting women outside abortion clinics with foetus dolls and angry words.
Mandatory counselling would be patronising.
Cooling-off periods are an unnecessary delay to a time-critical issue.
Child rights begin when the baby is born alive and not while living in the womb.
No wonder a Labor State Government keen to be seen as progressive and the friend of women, has lapped up the recommendations.
The emperor has no clothes, but we refuse to admit it.
The Government has convinced itself that this is what women, and society in general wants.
Submissions claiming abortion is harmful, coercive, disempowering, immoral or a breach of the child’s human rights are essentially dismissed under the commission’s key guiding principles.
The lawyers point to research showing about 60 per cent of Queenslanders are generally in favour of abortion and believe it should be legal, but conveniently overlook follow up questions in which the majority are opposed to the reasons why most women have abortions including for financial, educational, career, minor disability, family size and gender considerations.
Most Queenslanders believe abortion ends a human life, and that women should receive independent counselling and be offered alternatives and support.
The commission says peaceful protests, mandatory counselling, even counting the number of abortions or why women have them can cause unnecessary harm and stigma. It’s better not to know.
Even the recommendation to restrict abortion on-demand to 22 weeks is based primarily on the added risk to the mother from undergoing the procedure, and just a tad on community discomfort about late-term procedures.
The Commission regrets the added burden of having to get a second doctor to approve abortions post 22 weeks, but notes relatively few women (1%) will be inconvenienced, and the second doctor can give consent by phone without even examining the patient.
Never mind that latest Victorian statistics show 310 late-term abortions in 2016, 40 per cent for psychosocial reasons and that 33 babies were born alive and later died from prematurity.
In 2016, then Minister for Health, Cameron Dick, told parliament 27 little Queenslanders survived abortions the previous year and eventually died. An ABC News report on this stunning admission showed 204 children survived abortions over the previous decade.
But don’t be concerned, the eminent lawyers reassure us that babies can’t survive for long outside the womb at 22 weeks. That’s a relief!
They remind us that abortion is just another medical procedure, routinely performed about 70-80,000 times a year, about 12,000 pa in Queensland, yet feel the need to grant the right to conscientious objection for medical staff unwilling to participate in an abortion.
This is a minor concession to the doctors and nurses trained to save lives, and the thousands of Queensland women who have been left devastated by a procedure that promised so much and yet delivered so little. The women who couldn’t see another way out, and who went home after with empty arms and broken hearts, and never fully recovered. For them, losing a baby was not the same as losing their appendix.
The lawyers say the use of the term “abortion-on-demand” is incorrect and insulting because doctors can be trusted to educate, counsel and get consent from patients, even minors, during a 15-minute consultation.
We are also told that people who oppose abortions must be kept 150m from abortion providers and their clients in case these brave women, making a difficult choice, and their helpers running a legitimate business are upset or inconvenienced.
Alarmingly, the report suggests that doctors should not intrude on women’s privacy with prying questions about sexual abuse or domestic violence, and that abortion can be a safeguard for women in these circumstances.
The learned lawyers explain the difference between proposed new laws relating to abortion, and existing laws relating to an assault upon a pregnant woman causing the death of her child. We’re told that abortion is lawful, assault is not.
It creates the ludicrous scenario of a person being charged for killing the child (foetus) of a pregnant woman who is injured or attacked on her way to the abortion clinic. In these instances, the child is regarded as human and with at least some rights.
The lawyers do the same legal gymnastics when they explain away the pesky UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which says children, due to their “physical and mental immaturity”, require added safeguards, including legal, before and after birth. Article 3 says decisions should be in the best interests of the child, and Article 6 says every child deserves the right to survive and thrive.
The Commission relies on interpretations of the Convention, including Australia’s, that the protections don’t really extend to unwanted children in the womb, and that anyway, the UN, the World Health Organisation and other eminent groups have already decided a woman’s right to abortion trumps any notional rights of children.
The informed consent argument, particularly relating to minors, is also on shaky ground.
Teenagers who cannot get a tattoo or buy cigarettes or alcohol, and who need a permission note to go to the zoo on a school excursion, are deemed capable of deciding to have an abortion.
While the current laws relating to abortion may sit uncomfortably within the criminal code, they have been updated over the years to protect women and abortion providers, including those providing abortion pills.
No doctors or women have been convicted in connection with abortion, but the lawyers don’t want to take any risks, such is the obsession with unrestricted access to the procedure.
Finally, the lawyers reassure us that decriminalising abortions to make them potentially cheaper, easier and more accessible and acceptable, won’t make them more prevalent.
Lawyers make poor motor mechanics and even worse ethicists.
Queenslanders, act now! Here are three practical ways to make your voice count.