QUEENSLAND: by Luke McCormackNews Weekly
12 per cent swing in favour of protecting unborn
, November 13, 2010
New independent polling by Galaxy Research reveals Queensland voters are evenly split on whether to "decriminalise abortion", despite widespread media coverage of the recent Cairns court trial and contrary to recent claims by the pro-abortion lobby that there is 90 per cent support.
The poll, taken after the week-long trial, shows a cautious attitude towards abortion with 29 per cent saying they would not allow abortion "at any stage of pregnancy". This makes a total of 74 per cent of Queenslanders who would not permit abortion beyond the first trimester, or not at all.
Even support for first-trimester abortions is qualified because half (49 per cent) of Queensland voters do not support abortion for non-medical reasons (that is, social or financial reasons). Of course, it is deemed common knowledge that the majority of the annual 14,000+ abortions in Queensland are carried out for non-medical reasons, something which may shock the general public if they knew.
Catapulting the cause for abortion law reform into media headlines was the trial of a young couple in Cairns during October 12-14. After only one hour of deliberation the jury found them not guilty of the two charges: procuring one's own abortion and supplying a drug to procure an abortion.
It seems strange that police bothered pressing charges given the widespread practice of abortion on demand and the lack of evidence to confirm that the woman was actually pregnant.
Nevertheless, the pro-abortion lobby is trying desperately to strengthen its case for reform along the lines of the Victorian Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008
that passed without amendment.
The pro-abortion lobbyists include Cairns abortionist Dr Caroline de Costa, woman MPs from Labor's feminist EMILY's list, the left-wing political activist group GetUp!, and former Labor MP Bonny Barry who was defeated in 2009 due to a pro-life campaign that nearly doubled against her the average state-wide swing (see News Weekly
, April 4, 2009).
Ms Barry, while holding vigil outside the Cairns court house, told the media, "I apologise for not having moved [a bill] in the time that I should have."
Reflecting the pro-life ballot box victory in 2009 against Bonny Barry the latest poll clearly shows an average swing of 12 per cent against MPs who vote in favour of decriminalising abortion.
Some signs of hope for the pro-life movement can be seen in the age-related data collected during the polling. For example, whereas the overall attitude towards decriminalising abortion is evenly split, younger people (18-34 years) are more likely (60 per cent) to oppose such reforms. Likewise, only 42 per cent would change their voting behaviour, but young people (18-34 years) would be more likely (57 per cent) to change their vote, and of these two thirds would vote pro-life.
The only genuine consensus that can be drawn from this independent polling is that Queensland voters want more support and protection for women and medical staff. Almost every Queensland voter (94 per cent) believes that before having an abortion a woman should receive free independent counselling and information so that she can make a fully informed decision.
Three in four (77 per cent) of Queensland voters believe that abortion can harm the mental and physical health of a woman. Nine in 10 (86 per cent) believe that parental consent should normally be required for girls under the age of 16. Similarly, nine in 10 (86 per cent) support freedom for conscientious objection allowing doctors and nurses to opt out of having to perform abortions against their will.
Currently, most abortions in Queensland are justified by abortionists under the common law ruling of 1986. During the media conference at Parliament House to announce the new polling, Australian Family Association spokesman Michael Ord explained that "protection of the innocent is a government's first duty and primary reason for existence".
He said: "This is the principle underpinning the ruling from Judge McGuire (R v Bayliss & Cullen
, Qld., 1986) when he said: 'The law in Queensland has not abdicated its responsibility as guardian of the silent innocence of the unborn. It must rightly use its authority to ensure that abortion on whim or caprice does not insidiously filter into our society'."
It is precisely this principle of protecting the innocent that was lost in the 2008 Victorian debate, leaving a situation one hopes Queensland avoids, where an unborn baby has no legal protection - indeed, no legal recognition or rights whatsoever.
In summary, this research shows that there is no consensus for abortion law to be changed in Queensland, except to introduce safeguards for women, such as independent counselling, cooling-off periods and parental consent - as well as conscientious objection provisions for doctors and nurses.
It also shows, as found in the field, that a significant proportion of voters, if informed, will change their voting behaviour in favour of pro-life candidates and away from pro-abortion candidates.Luke McCormack is Queensland state president of the National Civic Council.