For release: February 17, 2010

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today called on the ACT Government to investigate allegations that a Canberra Hospital patient was pressed to terminate her baby at 31 weeks gestation following failed treatment for an earlier misdiagnosis.

The ACL’s ACT Director Nick Jensen said serious questions had been raised about why a Canberra Hospital senior obstetrician had in the past recommended that Fiona Vanderhook abort her now healthy 14-month-old baby son in marked contrast to six other specialist opinions, and that these allegations needed to be properly investigated.

“This issue raises wider questions about whether or not abortion is the solution of choice for some doctors. How many expectant mothers are being pressured into having abortions in the ACT without properly being counselled about other options?” Mr Jensen queried.

“In this instance one can only imagine just how hard it would have been for Mrs Vanderhook to go against the repeated advice of her hospital obstetrician to continue with the pregnancy. However, if she hadn’t taken the risk of disregarding his advice Mrs Vanderhook would not today be the mother of a lovely baby boy.

“Instead, as Mrs Vanderhook put it herself, she would have had to see ‘a baby induced and to watch him die and not do anything about it’. A recent Senate Inquiry heard evidence of this late term abortion practice happening in other states.

“How tragic when abortion is pressed on ACT women in such a way. How many other times, for example, are women being encouraged to have abortions in the ACT for suspected or relatively minor physical abnormalities, or because of social or economic concerns?

“We need to remember that children’s lives are at stake in this issue, and that women need to be given greater choice in dealing with an unsupported pregnancy or if there are perceived complications with the baby.”

Mr Jensen said the Canberra Hospital incident highlights problems that can easily arise as a result of the ACT having the most liberal, or open-slather, abortion laws in Australia – with abortions able to be performed at any stage of a pregnancy (right up until birth) for any or no reason.

“We shudder to think how many times the abortion of completely healthy babies has taken place in the ACT and how many women have gone on to regret what has happened – and the lack of real choice they felt they had,” Mr Jensen said.

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan on 0408 875 979.