March 10th 2001

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Nationals: the last hurrah?

EDITORIAL: Government embraces the politics of panic

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Competition Policy the next to go?

INDONESIA: Borneo violence further weakens Wahid

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Why refugees are a soft target

Help needed for North Queensland farmers

DRUGS: Drug policy criticised by international board

Straws in the Wind

Letter: Kim Beazley - look at the record

Senate inquiry attacks NZ apple import proposal

ECONOMICS: Trade blocs - where will Australia fit?


HUMAN RIGHTS: Amnesty Report may sink China's Olympic bid

HEALTH: Lessons of SA abortion experience

COMMENT: Paul Lyneham - Australia's H. L. Mencken

Teen books gone from "honest" to "offensive"

Letter: Refugees - coarsening of attitudes

Letter: Alice Springs - Darwin railway

Letter: One Nation

Books promotion page

Lessons of SA abortion experience

by David Perrin

News Weekly, March 10, 2001
David Perrin, Vice President of the Australian Family Association, examines the latest official statistics for abortion in South Australia. The conclusions are alarming.

Recently released South Australian abortion figures reveal a three fold increase over the last 30 years. In 1999 there were 18 abortions for every 1,000 women between 15 and 44 years, compared to 6 abortions for the same age group of women in 1970.

Abortions have been legal in South Australia for the past 30 years so there are accurate statistics available to make comparisons and to review the impact over that time.

The committee appointed to examine and report on abortions notified in South Australia, recently reported that there were 5,660 abortions in 1999. These statistics are only for surgical abortions and do not include abortions from chemicals such as the morning after pill.

This marked increase in abortions proves that the argument that ready availability of contraceptives would reduce the need for abortions is, and was always, a nonsense. It proves that when abortion is made readily available the numbers of abortions will increase.

A substantial majority (98%) of SA abortions in 1999 was based on the mental health of women, with 2% of abortions claimed to be for fetal abnormality. Of this latter category, about half were because of chromosomal abnormalities the rest for other reasons such as drug use.

The largest proportion of abortions (59%) in metropolitan public hospitals were carried out by the Pregnancy Advisory Centre which is affiliated with the Western Adelaide Health Service, with the Women & Childrens Hospital (13%), the Flinders Medical Centre (8%), Noarlunga Medical Centre (7%), and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (6%) of abortions.

Most abortions (93%) were carried out in the first trimester, that is in the first 14 weeks after conception.

Abortions for teenage pregnancies are higher than the general population of aborting women, which tends to indicate that teenagers are most at risk of abortion and the subsequent trauma that comes about in later years with mature reflection. But three quarters of all abortions are for women under 30 years of age, with women in the 20 to 24 year group twice as likely to abort their babies than the general average of women in the child bearing years.


Significantly, the committee reported "previous terminations were reported for nearly 38% of women ... it is of concern that among teenage women, nearly 19% had had a previous termination". This indicates that many of the women having abortions have already been aborted at least once before.

That one in five teenagers are coming back for a second and third abortion should be worrying for the community, given the now established link between abortions carried out before the birth of a first child and breast cancer in later life.

Significantly, half of the aborting women have never been married, about one-quarter are presently married and the remaining quarter are divorced, separated or in a de facto relationship. Evidence about abortions indicate that relationships rarely hold together after an abortion, so that the prospects of happiness for these 5,660 women would appear to be remote.


The chairman of the committee reported that the South Australia abortion rate (18 per 1,000 women of child bearing age) is lower than the abortion rate for Australia as a whole (22 per 1,000 women), but that these rates are much higher than some European countries, so that "there is much potential for prevention".

What this report highlights is that not only is the abortion rate increasing in Australia but that we have one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

The social implications of an increasing number of women involved in an abortion, at ages commencing at 14 and repeated throughout their reproductive years can only be guessed at.

But as the South Australian report indicates, we as a community can expect an increasing number of women (and men) who are badly affected by abortion and an increasing number of cases of breast cancer, broken families and traumatised women who find it hard to have normal relations with men.

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