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

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - ANN WA­SON MOORE ann.wa­son­moore@news.com.au

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.

And yet…

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.

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