September 27th 2008

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Malcolm Turnbull topples Brendan Nelson

EDITORIAL: Defence: new situations demand new policies

GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM: Landmark terrorist trials in Melbourne and London

FINANCIAL AFFAIRS: Why Wall Street imploded

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS: Australia facing external economic pressures

SCIENCE: Global-warming - myth, threat or opportunity?

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Breaking the truce on abortion

STRAWS IN THE WIND: The undeserving poor / The bolt from the blue / Sarah Palin / Ladder-kickers / Peter Costello

UNITED STATES: Sarah Palin appointment leaves Left apoplectic

ASIA: Rocky road ahead for Malaysia

HUMAN-TRAFFICKING: Vietnamese slave-labourers in Malaysia

COLD WAR: The spy who teetered on the edge

EDUCATION: Co-educational secondary schooling's drawbacks

SCHOOLS: Queensland school bans cartwheels

Water resources (letter)

Hearing the arguments (letter)

Palin for president? (letter)

Bio-fuels (letter)

BOOKS: 10 BOOKS THAT SCREWED UP THE WORLD: And 5 Others That Didn't Help, by Benjamin Wiker

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Breaking the truce on abortion

by Dr David van Gend

News Weekly, September 27, 2008
The naked violence of liberalised abortion laws will provoke more Australians to enlist in the struggle for a society where every unborn child is protected by law, writes Dr David van Gend.

Libertarian politicians will rejoice this month if all restraints on abortion in Victoria are struck down - but they forget history at their peril. They forget that the eight-year reign of their nemesis in the United States, anti-abortion President George W. Bush, is in large part a consequence of the social rage maintained since the US Supreme Court abolished all restraints on abortion in 1973.

Mountain of corpses

Nothing mobilises the Republican heartland like the affront of that unlimited abortion licence, and the crushing moral weight of the one million tiny bodies that pile up each year - mainly black bodies. They know, as George Orwell knew with communism, that "There is something fundamentally wrong with a system that needs to be built on a mountain of corpses" and will never rest until such a regime is defeated.

Nothing has so strengthened Republican presidential candidate John McCain's prospects as having a pro-life running-mate, Governor Sarah Palin, who this year refused to abort her baby diagnosed with Down's Syndrome, and who supports her pregnant 17-year-old unmarried daughter rather than making her fix her little mess.

Nothing has so damaged Democrat candidate Barack Obama as the recent publicity that he voted for abortion even when it was effectively infanticide. He opposed the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, legislation that aimed to give babies who survived abortion the same care as any other newborn - babies like Gianna Jessen, who spoke a fortnight ago with politicians in Canberra and Melbourne about surviving a late-term saline abortion in America in 1977.

But the US experience will not discourage certain legislators in Victoria - pens poised to legitimise late-term abortion by exquisite torture, with no mercy to survivors, and prosecution of doctors who conscientiously object.

The Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008 permits abortion "on demand" to 24 weeks, with no need for medical or moral justification. No questions asked, even with entirely healthy babies older than the "premmies" being cared for in our hospital nurseries. From 24 weeks to birth the bill permits abortion on the colluding nod of two abortion-clinic doctors.

This brutal bill rejects even the least consideration of justice or mercy for the baby. No more would we hear judges like Queensland's Justice McGuire declare, as he did in 1985: "The law in this state has not abdicated its responsibility as guardian of the silent innocence of the unborn." Instead of such sentiment, the Victorian bill promises us abortion red in tooth and claw, whereby deranged parents can take their visibly kicking and jumping six-month baby to a clinic where, for $4,000 less Medicare refund (current Melbourne rates), a doctor will undertake "cranial decompression" (current Melbourne method), also known as "partial-birth abortion".

In the published lecture of a Melbourne abortion practitioner, this method involves partly delivering the struggling baby by her legs, piercing her skull without any pain relief and evacuating the brain to ensure "no chance of delivering a live foetus" (Dr David Grundmann, "Abortion over 20 weeks in clinical practice", Monash University, August 1994).

When asked in 2005 by a reporter on 60 Minutes, "Do you pierce the baby's head with a sharp instrument?", this doctor replied, "I'm not going to discuss details or specifics about procedures because I don't think that you or the public needs to know." ("The great debate", Nine Network's 60 Minutes, April 17, 2005).

Do Victorian legislators need to know? Even in Washington "partial-birth abortion" was banned by Congress in 2003 and the Supreme Court in 2007 as "gruesome, inhumane and never medically indicated", but not in Melbourne.

By what wild superstition do legislators believe that a 24-week baby is a citizen deserving of all protection when wrapped in hospital blankets, but mere human waste when wrapped in the womb? I have held a baby born at 24 weeks, and if somebody attempted to assault her I would defend her. By what principle of justice do legislators conclude that there should be no restraint on adults who would assault the same baby when trapped in the womb?

At the very least, the current law against abortion gives consistent instruction to society that babies are never to be dealt with violently, whether before or after birth. Who seriously believes that a parental right to unlimited violence before birth will suddenly morph into unlimited tenderness after birth? No, if we so brutalise the deepest relationship in human life, that between mother and child, we brutalise it far beyond the baby's first cry.

On a more pragmatic level, legislators must appreciate that the current law at least keeps the social peace - where those who want abortion can access it, and those who oppose it have the consolation of laws that nominally defend the "silent innocence of the unborn".


But the present political leaders in Victoria do not intend to preserve social peace. They intend to crash through our fragile truce and declare an escalation in the culture wars.

So be it, but if they succeed, history will remember who broke the truce on abortion. And history will show that the naked violence of such a lawless abortion regime, as in the US, will provoke more Australians than ever before to enlist in the struggle for a society where every child is indeed welcomed in life and protected in law.

- Dr David van Gend is a general practitioner, based in Toowoomba, and a senior lecturer in medicine. He is also a spokesman for the World Federation of Doctors who Respect Human Life.

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