Media Release: Wednesday, 18 June, 2008

Federal politicians should weigh up public concern over Australia’s high abortion rate and give serious consideration to a move to stop the Medicare funding of second trimester and late-term abortions.

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today congratulated Tasmanian Senator Guy Barnett and supporting Senators for bringing abortion concerns back up in the Federal arena and asked parliamentarians to give the issue the attention it deserves.

“Health Minister Nicola Roxon has herself said that, like everyone in Parliament, she would like to see Australia’s abortion rate reduced and research confirms that the majority of Australians feel the same way,” ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said.

“We also know that people are particularly concerned about late-term abortions, and a 2005 national opinion poll by Market Facts has shown that 67 per cent of people are specifically opposed to the Medicare funding of abortions in the second trimester.

“With all that in mind, isn’t it high time Federal parliamentarians gave further consideration to the abortion issue and, as a start, gave support for Senator Barnett’s very sensible disallowance motion? Action needs to be taken – there is no point just hoping abortion rates will drop of their own accord.”

Senator Barnett this afternoon moved a notice of motion in the Senate to disallow an item in the Health Insurance regulations which provides for Medicare funding of second trimester and late term abortions (from 14-26 weeks of pregnancy). Third trimester abortions (post 26 weeks) are not funded by Medicare.

“Some of the babies being aborted using Medicare funding are old enough to survive outside the womb. Surely we should not be supporting this,” Mr Wallace said.

He said that the money saved through the passing of the disallowance motion could be re-directed to assist women facing unsupported pregnancies.

“You have to question why public funding is going towards something people are so concerned about, when far too many women are still left feeling they have restricted options when experiencing an unexpected or unsupported pregnancy,” he said.

“Women in these circumstances need to have access to more information and more support, as well as a better understanding of alternative choices.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan