Following the overturning of Roe v Wade in the USA, a journalist in Australia contacted the ACL with the following questions…
What kind of penalties does ACL think should apply to women who have abortions?
Currently in Australia there are no penalties for women who have abortions, as it is legally available in every State.
ACL does argue for changes in legislation regarding abortion, but the ambition of legislation is to change behaviour, not to penalise. An example of the effect of legislation regarding termination of pregnancy is the increase in the number of late term abortion since the practice has been legalised in most Australian States. This increase has also led to an increase in the number of babies born alive following an abortion, presenting a huge moral and ethical dilemma.
ACL believes that legislation to limit late-term abortions should be introduced, as well as legislation that would allow practitioners to give the same medical treatment to every live baby born – whether wanted or not wanted.
ACL’s aim is to educate through legislation, not to penalise. Very few women desire to have an abortion, but rather they view it as their only option at the time. Women need support, not threats.
Do you agree that they should be imprisoned or even executed for homicide as many suggest?
I would dispute your suggestion that ‘many’ suggest the death penalty for a crime of abortion. I have not personally ever heard anyone argue for such an abhorrent suggestion. Every life matters.
Neither do I believe that imprisonment is justifiable. Women who experience an unplanned, unwanted, or complicated, pregnancy and who choose to have an abortion need support. Ignoring the complex reasons why a woman chooses an abortion does an enormous disservice to them. Our current systems let them down badly.
Women need more alternative services that assist in dealing with the complex life circumstances many face. We should assist all vulnerable Australians, and definitely keep them OUT of jail.
What about penalties for doctors and other health professionals?
If laws were introduced to ban sex-selection abortions and to legislate for viable babies born alive to be afforded medial care, then failure to adhere to this legislation would be medical negligence and should be treated as such.
But this is not currently the case in Australia and there are no penalties for doctors who perform legal abortions. Rather what we have seen is medical practitioners being threatened with de-registration and penalties for refusing to refer for sex-selective or late-term abortion.
I told the journalist that their questions were quite shocking to me – but so are some of the practices associated with abortion. As Christians, our role is to love and protect all lives – that includes mothers and babies.
Let’s embrace this historic moment to demonstrate love to anyone who finds themselves facing a crisis pregnancy, or those who are struggling with their past decision to have an abortion. God’s mercy is extended to each one of us… and how grateful we are for that.