Flat White

Silencing dissent over abortion

10 May 2017

9:26 AM

10 May 2017

9:26 AM

Well-informed Flat White readers will be aware of the two abortion bills before the NSW Parliament, and the remarkable petitioning effort against it (at the time of publishing it’s garnered more than 50,000 signatures). They wouldn’t have found out from the mainstream media, mind you. Labor MLC Penny Sharpe has introduced one to enforce a “buffer zone” around abortion clinics, prevent those who wish to offer assistance to pregnant women or hold, for example, prayer vigils from coming within 150 metres of a clinic.

A more comprehensive abortion liberalisation bill has also been introduced into the Legislative Council by Greens member Dr Mehreen Faruqi which will take in Ms Sharpe’s proposals, as well as making abortion legal even until the moment before birth, and forcing doctors who object to abortion to refer to another doctor patients seeking advice about pregnancy options. It will be debated on Thursday.

Proponents of this legislation invoke the “woman’s right to choose,” although it’s a choice whose name even they dare not speak. Abortion seems so much more palatable when “abortion” is not mentioned, let alone the fact of a heartbeat being stilled and brain function being ended.

But the right to choose this gruesome “procedure” already exists across Australia. In some jurisdictions, two doctors are required to certify that the mother’s physical or mental health is at risk. But we have so fetishized mental wellbeing that finding two signatories is never difficult. In fact, you can now include “termination of pregnancy” as a condition of a legal contract, as NRL player Bryce Cartwright and Miss X now know.

But the right to choose is not really the point of these bills. Abortion legality is a red herring to distract from the main objective of silencing dissent.

In Australia, abortion has not become the touchstone issue of societal division that it is in the United States. A cursory drive past the state’s biggest abortion clinic confirms this. As if to mock the idea of a buffer zone, there is usually with a solitary elderly protester praying outside and gently offering leaflets for the pregnancy crisis centre across the road.

Frankly, a bit more moral outrage over the deaths of those babies yet unborn (the pro-abortion nomenclature is of course “foetus,” but even Cartwright’s abortion contract notes that he and Miss X “conceived a child”) is warranted, but in any case the whole business is, we are repeatedly told, “a matter for the woman, her family, and her doctor.”

However, the pro-choice lobby doesn’t even believe its own principles. What about a father pleading with a woman about to abort her baby? They could be arrested if they come within 150 meters of the clinic. What about the opportunities this bill will create for more women to be bullied into killing their child? This happens (and not just with NRL players).

And what about if the woman’s doctor’s views are not those of Dr Faruqi’? “Do no harm” is no longer a thing. An experienced doctor who believed that abortion harms baby humans and their mothers will be required to act contrary to their training and expertise – not to mention their conscience – and to instead do great harm. Failure to do so would be deemed “unsatisfactory professional conduct.”

This bill conscripts unwilling participants, without the protection of a conscientious objector exemption. It’s an affront to the freedoms of conscience, religion, and expression – not to mention the right to peaceful protest and the right of women to be informed about a real choice – that will see Dr Faruqi in the running for next year’s Liberty Victoria Freedom of Speech Award.

Obviously, our parliamentary abortion enthusiasts will be as unaffected by an appeal to actual human freedoms (as opposed to the confected euphemism of “reproductive rights”) as they are to the basic tenets of biology and physiology. But all the others who occasionally claim some kind of fidelity to established civil liberties should remember that they’ll be entitled to vote according to their consciences and the state’s doctors should be able to practice medicine according to theirs.

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