August 8th 2009

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Economic bounce masks deep structural crisis

ENERGY: What can Australia do when the fuel runs out?

EDITORIAL: Overseas lesson in energy conservation

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Turnbull's judgement under a cloud

SCHOOLS: The choice so few parents can afford to make

MARRIAGE: The personal and social costs of cohabitation

OPINION: Keeping marriage between a man and a woman

CHINA: Cracks appear in China's detested one-child policy

POLITICAL IDEAS: Distributist responses to the global economic crisis

WAR ON TERROR: What will we learn from the Jakarta bombings?

EUROPE: Obama told: don't abandon central and eastern Europe

OBITUARY: Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski dies at 81

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: Protest at News Weekly article on East Timor

Tony Abbott on divorce (letter)

Time for a people's bank? (letter)

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Genderless child-rearing experiment / Hostility towards masculinity / Dear baby-boomers ... / Shopkeepers honoured

BOOK REVIEW: POMPEII: The Life of a Roman Town, by Mary Beard

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Protest at News Weekly article on East Timor

by Ary Laufer

News Weekly, August 8, 2009
Ary Laufer's letter and Peter Westmore's reply

Marie Stopes International Australia writes to News Weekly


I am writing to you with regards to Peter Westmore's article, "East Timor consolidates stable democratic government" (News Weekly, June 27, 2009).
Marie Stopes (1880-1958),
campaigner for family-planning,
abortion and eugenics, in her
laboratory, 1904

In this article a reference is made to our organisation as follows: "The legislation will curb the activities of the international abortion-provider, Marie Stopes International, which has set up premises in the capital, Dili."

Marie Stopes International was never contacted by Peter Westmore or News Weekly about this story or the above statement, and I would like to clarify the following:

• This statement is erroneous as Marie Stopes does not provide abortion services in Timor Leste.

• The recent legislative changes will not curb any of our activities for the above reason.

• Our services in Timor Leste concentrate on sexual health and family-planning education. Our aims and goals are focused on providing high-quality sexual and reproductive health services and education to the women of Timor Leste.

Maternal and infant mortality in Timor Leste continue to be very high, and we work closely with the Ministry of Health, local partners and communities in ensuring the improved sexual and reproductive health of women and their families in Timor Leste.

Statements such as that made in your report jeopardise the work that Marie Stopes currently offers to the women of Timor Leste, as they incorrectly reflect our work.

I would like this statement to be amended in your online article to clarify the above information, and if this article has also appeared in print, we kindly ask that a correction statement be issued in the next edition to reflect the accurate nature of our program in Timor Leste.

Should you wish to obtain any information in the future in regard to any of our country programs, please contact myself or Claire Maloney, and we would be happy to provide you with accurate information for publication.

Ary Laufer,
Executive Officer/
Regional Director,
Marie Stopes International
Melbourne, Vic.

Peter Westmore responds ...

Mr Laufer makes no reference to the fact that Marie Stopes International is, as its web site makes clear, an international organisation which provides so-called "reproductive health" services including abortion, in many countries around the world.

Its Australian web site,, is equally explicit.

It states, inter alia, "Marie Stopes International is Australia's leading sexual and reproductive healthcare provider. ...

"We provide abortion, vasectomy, contraception, STI (STD) check-ups, unplanned pregnancy help and advice ...".

Marie Stopes International also advertises the location of its abortion centres in Australia, and invites people to book in for abortions through its web site.

In light of this, I am confident that if abortion had been legalised in East Timor, Marie Stopes International would have provided abortion services, just as it provides them in other countries where abortion is legal.

I am strengthened in this conviction by a media release issued by Marie Stopes International on March 6 this year (just before International Women's Day), pressing Australia's Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, to lift the Howard Government's ban on funding abortion services in developing countries.

In this statement, Mr Laufer is quoted as saying, "Some of Australia's poorest neighbouring countries have devastating rates of maternal mortality, and the highest contributing factor to these deaths is unsafe abortion."

When I suggested to Ms Claire Maloney, who is employed by Marie Stopes International Australia, that if the law in East Timor had been amended, Marie Stopes International would have provided abortions in East Timor, she declined to respond, saying that Marie Stopes International did not currently perform abortions in East Timor, and that my proposition was "hypothetical".

In fact, the only reason why Marie Stopes is not currently providing abortions in East Timor is because it is illegal to do so.

Peter Westmore,
News Weekly,
Balwyn, Vic.

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