Media Release: Friday, 30 May, 2008

The Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) report into abortion law reform tabled in Parliament yesterday is out-of-touch with community concerns, effectively ignores 80 per cent of submissions made to it, and rejects any extra support for women, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) said today.

ACL Victorian Director Rob Ward said all three options in the “abysmal” report would radically change Victoria’s abortion laws and make it much more permissible for abortions to take place, despite the fact that many people are very uncomfortable knowing that around 20,000 abortions are already carried out each year in Victoria.

“The VLRC has totally lived up to its reputation for making recommendations that involve a form of social engineering which is out-of-touch with the general community. Why even hold an inquiry if you are then going to discard the strong concerns raised in around 80 per cent of submissions to that inquiry?” Mr Ward said.

“The VLRC report has not only ignored, but misrepresented the depth of community disquiet about the practice of abortion in Victoria. Expert research, acknowledged but then ignored by the Commission, confirms that the majority of Australians would like to see the incidence of abortions reduced, even where they think women should have the right to access abortion services.

“While the government has already indicated that it will not accept the most radical of the 3 options presented, which would allow for the killing of a child right up to the moment of birth, nobody should be fooled into thinking that options 1 and 2 are much better. Simply having such an horrific option that it can reject and then lay claim to going for a ‘moderate’ course is political spin at its worst,” Mr Ward said.

“By restricting the scope of the inquiry to only providing options on how to decriminalise abortion, the government has missed an opportunity to provide better protection and support for women facing an unplanned pregnancy, as well as protecting the unborn child.

“None of the options presented in the report offer any substantial changes that achieve a better outcome for women. Incredibly, the report manages to reject every proposal put forward that would have given women more information, more support, and a better understanding of alternative choices. This is a tragedy.”

Mr Ward called for a full-scale non-partisan parliamentary inquiry to be held before any legislation is developed.

“Children are our future and women need more than ill-considered law changes that leaves them as unprotected as ever.”

Media Contact: Rob Ward