PREGNANCY COUNSELLING: by John MorrisseyNews Weekly
Health Minister Abbott's initiative attacked
, February 17, 2007
Tony Abbott has introduced a pregnancy counselling service that is in accordance with community wishes, writes John Morrissey.Can pregnancy counselling be value-neutral? The furore produced by the announcement that Catholic agencies were to be involved in the new Commonwealth-funded pregnancy counselling service gave rise to many spiteful attacks from friends of the abortion industry — and much uninformed debate.
Once again, defenders of the unborn were put so much on the defensive that the actual details of the project were never made clear to the public.
The contract for the project was awarded by Health Minister Tony Abbott to McKesson's, a commercial health services management company, which has sought information for the counselling handbook from experts in various fields.
Accordingly, the Catholic Church welfare body Centacare and the Caroline Chisholm Society have been contracted to provide information for this handbook, concerning the support services available to assist women in continuing their pregnancy.
What the media did not tell us is that McKesson's has contracted FPWA Sexual Health Services — an abortion-provider — to develop the training package for the counsellors whom McKesson's will select.
While we might find this latter piece of information disquieting, it shows how even-handed the awarding of the contract has been, and how unjust have been the accusations against Tony Abbott that Catholic organisations have been involved in the project simply because of his religious zealotry.
It also demonstrates how much his critics have distorted the issue, and how uninformed have been some of the subsequent comments, even at editorial level.
The new pregnancy counselling service will begin on May 1, and there is no reason to expect that it will be other than highly professional and non-directive.
Whatever misleading arguments are advanced from the so-called Pro-Choice side, we must remember that a large majority of Australians believe that there are too many abortions and that counselling should be provided to ensure that all alternatives are considered before this decision is taken (Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Give Women Choice
, April 2005).
According to this major study, in spite of all the distortion of the truth, Health Minister Tony Abbott has introduced a service which is exactly what Australians want.— John Morrissey