Friday, March 8th, 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby has expressed concern at the news Tasmanian Health Minister Michelle O’Bryne intends to introduce legislation to decriminalise abortion in the state.

ACL spokesman Dan Flynn said legislators needed to be protecting the vulnerable and rights of unborn children.

“Life begins at conception and abortion is nothing but the deliberate taking of life. Tasmanian law acknowledges that the respiration or heartbeat of a child, delivered from 20 weeks, are signs of life. Under Tasmanian law a stillbirth from 20 weeks must be registered with Births, Deaths & Marriages and the Births,” he said.

Mr Flynn said women need to be supported to consider other options with an unplanned pregnancy.

“Research indicates that women who have had an abortion do so because they feel they don’t have any other choice – that they have to choose between the unborn child and work, family or opportunities,” Mr Flynn said.

Mr Flynn said the language of “reproductive health” in the title of the Bill is intended to mask the agenda for abortion on demand and the overriding of any objection by a medical practitioner or counsellor.

“The proposed legislation requires doctors and counsellors to refer the woman to someone who does support abortion – which means it really doesn’t appreciate what a conscientious objection means for people. If a doctor or counsellor is opposed to abortion they wouldn’t feel comfortable referring the person onto someone else either,” he said.

He said the proposed Bill goes further than the Victorian legislation by effectively shutting down pro-life counselling to pregnant women.

“The bill provides that if a woman seeks pregnancy options advice from a counsellor, including a volunteer, if that person holds a conscientious objection to abortion, the counsellor cannot simply advise about financial, accommodation, adoption services and abortion. The counsellor must refer the woman to a counsellor who does not hold a conscientious objection to abortion.

“In Victoria in 2009 there were 410 post 20 week abortions, 210 of these performed on physically healthy babies,” he said.

The ACL intends to make a submission to the inquiry and launch a campaign encouraging Tasmanians to lobby their politicians against this proposed legislation.