A Cairns couple charged with procuring an abortion under Queensland law have been found not guilty by a jury in the District Court today. In response to the verdict, the Queensland Branch of the World Federation of Doctors who Respect Human Life, in a media release reproduced with permission below, said that the Crown has powerfully restated the principle in Queensland law, "that it is prohibited for adults to take the life of their unborn baby unless compelled to do so because of serious risk to the life or health of the woman."

WORLD FEDERATION OF DOCTORS WHO RESPECT HUMAN LIFE

Queensland Branch

MEDIA RELEASE, Thursday 14th October 2010

CAIRNS ABORTION CASE RESTATES PRINCIPLE OF JUSTICE

– A DETERRENT TO UNJUSTIFIABLE ABORTION

In response to the verdict in the abortion trial in Cairns today, Dr David van Gend, spokesman for the Queensland branch of the World Federation of Doctors who Respect Human Life, had this response:

The most important outcome of the Cairns abortion trial was the Crown’s powerful restatement of principle in Queensland law, that it is prohibited for adults to take the life of their unborn baby unless compelled to do so because of serious risk to the life or health of the woman. As the Crown prosecutor, Michael Byrne, reminded the jury, abortion is “illegal unless the pregnancy posed a threat to the woman's life or her physical or mental health” and is not permitted for reasons of “lifestyle”.

In this comment, he was restating the earlier ruling of Judge McGuire(1) that this exception for “serious risk” to the woman is “a humane doctrine devised for humanitarian purposes, but it cannot be made the excuse for every inconvenient conception.”

In the Cairns case, for reasons known only to the members of the jury, the accused couple has been found to be not guilty of violating this principle - but the principle remains.

If the Cairns case reminds Queenslanders that abortion is only lawful to prevent serious risk to the mother’s life or health, and this reminder acts as a deterrent to other adults taking the life of their unborn baby where there is no medical justification, then the case is immensely important – for two reasons:

  • First, because many innocent babies who would have been put to death will now be allowed to live;

  • Second, because many good-hearted women who would have undergone the violence of abortion will now be spared the deadly effects of abortion on their inner lives.


Regardless of the outcome in this particular case, the principle has been powerfully restated, that abortion is justly prohibited in Queensland except where a compelling risk to the mother’s life or health exists. In the words of Judge McGuire: “The law in this State has not abdicated its responsibility as guardian of the silent innocence of the unborn. It must rightly use its authority to ensure that abortion on whim or caprice does not insidiously filter into our society”.                

CONTACT for comment or interview: Dr van Gend, 0417 007066




(1) McGuire F,R v Bayliss and Cullen (9 Qld lawyer Reps) at 45.