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Re: Abbott, Pyne prepare attack on abortion rights

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  • Sue B.
    According to news reports this morning, Tony Abbott has been hassling the Catholic Church, particularly George Pell, about the church not doing enough to build
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 1 12:41 AM
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      According to news reports this morning, Tony Abbott has been hassling the Catholic Church, particularly George Pell, about the church not doing enough to build a public campaign against abortion. However, Howard appeared to be hosing down the discussion (maybe he wants his IR legislation through first) because of divisions in the Liberal Party on the issue.

      In Qld in the early 1980s, some Liberal Party parliamentarians crossed the floor to vote against Bjelke Peterson on the issue. Then in 1985 or 1986, the ALP leader Keith Wright (who came from a Festival of Light background) called on the premier, Bjelke-Peterson to crack down on abortion clinics, which the govt did by sending in the police, with TV cameras in tow, to close down the only two clinics in Qld (one in Brisbane and one in Townsville). The police even stopped the clinic doctors from finishing an abortion procedure mid-way.

      However, there was upset in the National Party because several National Party MPs had had vasectomies at the abortion clinics (a practice which was also banned at the time because it interfered with reproducing). In the end, there was massive uproar in Qld, with massive opposition to the closing of the clinics, including opposition within the Liberal and Labor Parties, and no-one was charged. Eventually, the clinics re-opened.

      Pip Hinman wrote:
      If Pyne and Abbott get their way, Medicare rebates for abortion and late-term abortions will be a thing of the past. Abbott has been preparing for this moral crucade for some time and now that the Coalition has "open seseme" (to quote Ron Boswell), it's one attack they definately want to move one. It also helps having reactionary Anglican (Jensen) and Catholic (Pell) church leaders onside.
      SA members are working with other pro-choice activists to plan strategies for fdefending women's rights to choose. Stay tuned for more details.
      Pip Hinman
      Age online
      MP calls for ban on late abortions
      By Michelle Grattan
      November 1, 2004

      A coalition MP wants a ban on late terminations, adding fuel to the abortion debate.

      "I think it's wrong that the law isn't keeping pace with modern technology," the new federal parliamentary secretary for health, Christopher Pyne, said yesterday.

      "In one section of the hospital, premature babies are being kept alive at 23 weeks, and in another section pregnancies are being terminated at 24 weeks. The law and technology should be brought into sync."

      Mr Pyne was dubious about abortions being done beyond 12 weeks, apart from exceptional circumstances - "and they shouldn't be carried out at all beyond 21 weeks".

      Australia's level of 100,000 abortions a year should be tackled - by bringing forward the cut-off time for terminations and by encouraging women to choose other options, he said.

      Mr Pyne told The Age women should not be denied the right to an abortion, but it should be a last option - something "women choose not to have, and can't have too late".

      Abortion law is a state matter. In Victoria they can be conducted after 28 weeks only if the mother's health is at risk. The Commonwealth is involved in abortion through Medicare rebates. The abortion debate is gathering pace. Special Minister of State Eric Abetz has supported removing Medicare funding for most abortions. Incoming Queensland National senator-elect Barnaby Joyce has said funding should stop, while Health Minister Tony Abbott has intensified his campaign to mobilise the Catholic Church as he seeks to build pressure on the Medicare rebate issue.

      The debate has the potential to be divisive among Coalition members. MPs opposed to the anti-abortion push include minister Joe Hockey and NSW Liberal Senator Marise Payne. Liberal women were angered by Mr Abbott's comments before the election, but held their tongues then.

      Abbott spoke of being haunted by the "missing millions of Australians".

      Prime Minister John Howard has said there is no Government move to change policy on the rebate, and any views expressed are personal. There are 75,000 Medicare-funded abortions a year.

      Addressing a Catholic conference attended by Cardinal George Pell and other church dignitaries last week, Mr Abbott said he wanted to invite leaders of the church, to consider its role in tackling the tragedy of abortion in Australia today.

      "More than a quarter of all pregnancies in Australia end in abortion. We will be a better country, we will be a better people and, frankly, we will have better governments if the church speaks its mind clearly and unambiguously on this" as well as on other "great moral truths", Mr Abbott said.

      If senior Catholics were as morally indignant about the "unambiguous moral tragedy" of abortion as about the less clear-cut question of immigration detention, "then there would be change, and change we should have".

      Mr Abbott stressed that the last thing anyone would want to do is "criminalise people who are party to abortion".

      He said there would be far fewer abortions if premature sexual activity was discouraged, adoption was encouraged as an alternative to abortion and motherhood was celebrated as much as workplace success.

      Mr Abbott will not say that the Medicare rebate should not be available for most abortions but his aim is to generate pressure for such a move. He spoke of being haunted by the "missing millions of Australians". He thought everyone should do what they could to tackle the issue.

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