NO POLITICS IN VOTE ON ABORTION
This is one of the most fiercely personal issues we face, it’s hardly a time to legislate along party lines
I HATED door-knock appeals when I was a kid.
My inability to sell cookies was the reason I quit Girl Scouts. Sure, I could tie a knot 20 ways and sing every campfire song known to man, but I just could not offload enough boxes of Thin Mints to save my life – or my troop’s dignity.
And yet, there was one fundraiser for which I excelled.
It was the Hike for Life, the Catholic Church-sponsored 20-mile walk to help stop abortion. As a pre-teen, I suffered doors slammed in my face and daggers shot in my direction as I trawled the neighbourhood seeking sponsors to help me save the babies.
But that was then.
Just like the nine-year-old girl in Brisbane who refused to stand for the national anthem out of respect for indigenous Australians, as a child I would stand up – or kneel down, or stay silent, or speak up – for the beliefs that I was taught to uphold.
I was a Catholic kid at a Catholic school so I hated abortion. Almost as much as selling cookies.
But now I’m a lapsed Catholic adult who has spent a lot of time thinking about the ethics of this issue. And it’s one that trips me up every time.
Do I believe that life begins at conception? Yes, I do.
I understand that these are not the parameters by which everyone operates, even science can’t agree when that magical moment occurs, but they are mine.
Thank God I never had a miscarriage, but I have no doubt that if I lost a baby in the early weeks of pregnancy I would grieve for its life, such as it was – or was not.
Therefore, abortion – to me – is killing a baby.
And yet …
Thank God I was never in a position where I had to consider such a procedure, but I’d like to think that given my means and my beliefs, I would have kept that imaginary child.
I do not believe that my beliefs and my definitions should dictate another woman’s choices.
Abortion could not be a more personal decision. It depends so much on how you define life, on how you were raised, whether you have religion, whether you have money, whether you have support. Despite the morality of this issue, it’s so clearly not black and white.
Which is why it seems simply wrong that the LNP should not have already granted its members a conscience vote in the proposed decriminalisation of abortion in this state.
Abortion is one of the most fiercely personal issues we face, it’s hardly a time to vote along party lines.
Yes, there will be voter backlash – from both sides. Indeed, I have no doubt I’ll receive some ‘feedback’ from this. And that’s OK. It’s important that we all think for ourselves.
So here are some facts … Queensland and NSW are the only states of Australia that still treat abortion as a crime, with the Queensland laws dating back to 1899.
Under the Criminal Code Act, a woman who unlawfully has an abortion in Queensland can be sent to prison for up to seven years.
And don’t think we don’t prosecute, it’s still happening in this decade.
Under the proposed legislation, abortion would no longer be a criminal offence but would be regarded as a health matter.
Abortion would be allowed “on request” up to 22 weeks, although a doctor would be permitted to conscientiously object and refer the woman to a different practitioner.
After 22 weeks, a termination would require
further discussion about the medical grounds, as well as consultation with another medical practitioner.
If I was in that parliament next month, I really couldn’t say which way I would vote. I hate the idea of late-term abortions or for this procedure to be used for the purposes of gender selection.
But I also hate that it is women who carry the heaviest burden of unplanned pregnancies. It’s their body, it’s not always their choice.
To be honest, there is no way to win this debate. It’s an awful solution for a horrible situation. We cannot, in good conscience, let it become a political argument used to win voters.
That’s one appeal I can sell.
We cannot, in good conscience, let a vote on the proposed decriminalisation of abortion in this state
become a political argument used to win votes.