REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: by Charles Francis, AM, QC, RFDNews Weekly
Abortion damage to women ignored by inquiry
, July 5, 2008
The Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) has steadfastly ignored evidence of the negative consequences for women of decriminalising abortion, writes Charles Francis QC.
Wherever in Australia there are proposals to legalise all abortion, the heart of the pro-abortion argument now seems to be the feminist concept that all women must be "autonomous".
In the May 2008 Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC)'s Report on the Law of Abortion
, a woman's autonomy is a frequent buzz-word, often used to defeat what are wise submissions. "Autonomy" implies one's first duty is always to oneself. The first great commandment has become a duty to love oneself.
The VLRC received 519 submissions of which 80 per cent opposed legalising abortion. Those submissions listed the many problems caused by abortion, and fully canvassed the medical and scientific research which identified them.Damage
The VLRC thus had a wonderful opportunity to produce a very valuable report warning of the damage done to women by abortion. Many Victorians hoped that state MPs, before voting on this important question, would at least be made aware of the problems abortion creates so that any debate would be an informed
However, the VLRC's very limited terms of reference made it reasonably clear that what the Victorian Brumby Labor Government wanted was a blueprint of how it could legalise all
abortion. The VLRC provided the government with three options for legalisation, and its report included some strange recommendations, such as:
• Any new abortion law should not contain mandated information provisions.
• Any new abortion law should not contain a requirement for mandatory counselling or mandatory referral to counselling.
• Any new abortion law should not contain a compulsory delay or cooling-off period before an abortion may be lawfully performed.
• Any new abortion law should not include a specific anti-coercion provision.
These recommendations must have delighted members of the left-wing feminist lobby's "Emily's List" and the abortion industry. They want to create a situation in which obtaining an abortion would be no more significant than making an appointment for a haircut.
Some of the VLRC's recommendations seem to fly in the face of the common sense of the Australian public, as disclosed in the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute's 2005 survey, Give Women Choice: Australia Speaks on Abortion
. Some 99 per cent of the community believe that women contemplating abortion should have access to counselling, and 78 per cent believe counselling should be compulsory.
This common sense is well supported by research of the Elliot Institute in the United States where more than 80 per cent of women who had abortions said that, had they been properly counselled, they would not have proceeded with an abortion. The institute's research has also revealed that 64 per cent of women who had abortions felt pressured by others.
The VLRC was provided with abundant evidence that, in Australia, abortion is often not the choice of the woman herself but that of her husband, partner or family. Legalising all abortion enables others to apply even greater pressure on women. Husbands, partners and others can then argue that there is absolutely nothing wrong with abortion since it has the full approval of the law.
The VLRC was told that, in the US, recognition of this phenomenon has led to anti-coercion legislation in eight states. Such legislation is very much for the benefit of women. It may cause a drop in the business of the abortion industry, but why the VLRC expressly recommended that abortion law should not include a specific anti-coercion provision is a mystery. What possible harm could it do?
As a lawyer acting for women who sued abortionists successfully for harm done to them, I became aware of the many associated medical risks, in particular of a huge body of evidence demonstrating resulting psychiatric harm.
It seems strange that the VLRC did not acknowledge the New Zealand study by Professor David Fergusson, the recent report by the UK Royal College of Psychiatrists, and studies from Finland and California demonstrating the increased risk of death among women who have abortions compared to those who give birth or who are not pregnant.Breast cancer risk
The abortion-breast cancer link has also been established to a high degree of probability. This risk now seems to be recognised by the abortion industry itself in the US. In January 2005, the All Women's Health Services (a clinic in Portland, Oregon) admitted the link and paid US$200,000 damages for failing to warn of it.
All of the above evidence was drawn to the VLRC's attention. Yet, in its recent report, the VLRC dismissed it, saying: "The current medical and scientific consensus is that these are not material risks." As a senior lawyer who studied the evidence, I found this statement extraordinary.
If all abortion is legalised, presumably this will extend even to partial-birth abortion in which very viable babies are subjected to horrific, agonising deaths.
Perhaps VLRC's report was one that the Brumby Government wanted, but Victorians and their unborn children could well pay a very heavy price for an unfettered abortion industry.— Charles Francis, AM, QC, is a barrister and former member of the Victorian state parliament.
1. Southern Cross Bioethics Institute, Give Women Choice: Australia Speaks on Abortion
2. Elliot Institute. URL: www.AfterAbortion.org
4. Charles Francis QC, "Abortion — women's choice or coercion?", News Weekly
, October 13, 2007, p.16.
5. David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood
, and Elizabeth M. Ridder, "Abortion in young women and subsequent mental health", The Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology
(London), Vol. 47, Issue 1, January 2006, pp.16-24.
6. "Position statement on women's mental health in relation to induced abortion", Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, March 14, 2008.
7. Elliot Institute, op. cit
8. FB vs. All Women's Health Services and Dr. John Doe
, Multnomah County Circuit Court, Case #0307-07422, January 24, 2005.
"Judgment awarded in abortion-breast cancer case", WorldNetDaily
, January 27, 2005.