NATIONAL AFFAIRS: by John BallantyneNews Weekly
Bill to end Medicare-funded abortions for sex selection
, March 16, 2013
Victorian DLP Senator John Madigan is trying to ensure the issue of abortion is not overlooked by political parties ahead of this year’s federal election. He is introducing a bill to ban Medicare funding for abortions used for sex selection.
He explained to The Australian newspaper: “The bill aims to stop Medicare funding for abortions procured on the basis of gender selection.
“We might not like to think that this happens in Australia, but parents can and do pick the gender of their child to fit their lifestyle, and do abort a child of the unwanted sex.
“This is horrifying. Children are being viewed as accessories, which is simply not right. You don’t paint the nursery, then pick the sex of the child.” (The Australian, February 27, 2013).
On February 27, he lodged in the Senate a motion, the Health Insurance Amendment (Medicare Funding for Certain Types of Abortion) Bill 2013, with the view to introducing the bill this month.
Victorian DLP Senator John Madigan
in the Commonwealth Parliament.
John Madigan, a blacksmith from Ballarat, was elected to the Senate from Victoria in 2010, representing the Democratic Labor Party (DLP). The DLP was originally formed after the 1955 Labor Party split. John Madigan is currently the DLP’s only senator.
Although he is not up for election this year, the half-Senate election at the September federal poll could radically alter his political prospects.
The Greens, who currently hold the balance of power in the Senate, are expected to suffer heavy electoral losses.
In the event that after September Senator Madigan ended up holding the balance of power, he could be in a position to drive hard bargains with a future government needing his vote to get its legislation through the Senate.
Recently, Senator Madigan sharply criticised federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott, who was once known for his strong pro-life views, but who, upon becoming Liberal Party leader, softened his stance considerably.
On February 19, Senator Madigan delivered a speech at the Sydney Institute, titled “Integrity in politics”. In the course of a wide-ranging talk he attacked Mr Abbott for stating he would like abortion to be “safe, legal and rare” — a phrase popularised in the 1990s by the then US President Bill Clinton.
Senator Madigan remarked: “However, I would like to point out that there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ abortion; someone always dies.”
The DLP’s sole senator has come under fire from left-wing commentators for his pro-life views.
A feminist writer for the Fairfax press, Stephanie Peatling, complained in her column in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Every once in a while they pop up, these old white men who feel they have a God-given right to meddle with women’s bodies.”
She listed various senators who, over recent decades, had sought to wind back abortion rights: former Tasmanian independent Senator Brian Harradine, former Victorian Family First Senator Steve Fielding and the current, long-serving Queensland National Party Senator Ron Boswell.
She added: “There is a ginger group within the Labor Party called Labor for Life, which connects MPs with pro-life views on a range of issues including abortion.
“Now it’s the turn of John Madigan, the Democratic Labor Party senator from Victoria who got into the Senate in 2010 and could very well hold the balance of power after the next election.” (Sydney Morning Herald, February 27, 2013).
Senator Madigan, in his Sydney Institute speech, quoted the words of the psychologist and sexual revolution pioneer, Bettina Arndt, who has come to express deepening concern about Australia’s abnormally high number of abortions.
While he disagreed with her statement that a woman’s right to abortion must be protected, he nevertheless praised her for her openness in acknowledging the grave personal and social costs of abortion.
A year ago, Arndt wrote: “Australia has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. Whatever one’s views on pregnancy termination, it is shocking that each year between 70,000 and 90,000 women face the stress of abortion.”
Senator Madigan said, “Bettina Arndt has the honesty to admit that abortion is stressful to women”. He then referred to a report in the Journal of Perinatal Medicine that has concluded that “for some women abortion can lead beyond stress to anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug abuse and suicidal behaviours”.
He lamented the lack of bipartisan support for promoting pro-life issues in parliament.
He said: “There is a small cohort of members and senators who, when they are put to the test, will claim they are pro-life. Unfortunately, they rarely introduce adequate legislation and secretly wish it would not raise its ugly head.
“Without a murmur from them on the essential issues of life and death, which underpin our whole understanding of human rights, bills pass.
“This applies across party political lines. Perhaps only the Greens can be said to be consistently in favour of ending life. There does not appear to be a similar cohort aimed at preserving life…”.
Senator John Madigan’s address to the Sydney Institute on February 19, 2013, “Integrity in politics”, may be downloaded from the DLP website, at: