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Abortion back on the agenda in Victoria

By David Palmer - posted Monday, 13 August 2007

Ms Candy Broad, member for the Northern Victoria Region in the Legislative Council (i.e. the Upper House) in the Victorian Parliament has introduced her Crimes (Decriminalisation of Abortion) Bill 2007 into the Upper House. The purpose of the Bill in amending the Crimes Act 1958 is threefold:

  1. to remove the offence of unlawful abortion in relation to procuring a woman’s miscarriage (Section 65 of the Crimes Act 1958);
  2. to remove the application of the offence of child destruction to an abortion (Section 10); and
  3. create a new section to restrict the right to perform an abortion to a medical practitioner or someone acting under the direction of a medical practitioner (new Section 34AA).

The press report Ms Broad as saying most Victorians believed abortions were completely lawful but the outdated laws remained.


This statement is of dubious value: most Victorians are concerned about late term abortions and if confronted with the statistic of more than one abortion for every three live births, would say 20,000 abortions each year in Victoria were too many.

Ms Broad also claimed that her legislation would safeguard women and doctors against the threat of prosecution. This also is a nonsense claim. Who in the recent past has faced prosecution in Victoria other than the doctor who aborted a 32-week-old dwarf who wasn’t a dwarf?

Again Ms Broad says, "I want to see abortion being provided in a safe as well as a legal way”. Who says abortion is a safe procedure? Certainly not for the unborn child. There is nothing in her Bill that renders abortion safe.

Contra Ms Broad, there are sound reasons why Parliament should reject any attempt to decriminalise abortion.

The major problem with making abortion legal without qualification as Ms Broad’s Bill does, is that the general public, including the young, will begin to think of abortion - once considered morally wrong, or at the very least morally dubious - as morally right. Abortion is not morally right. Even the ancient Greeks recognised the value of the unborn so that Hippocrates bound all doctors in his oath against procuring an abortion.

One practical consequence of the change in emphasis associated with decriminalisation of abortion would be that it will become much harder for a woman to resist calls from her boyfriend, her husband or other family members to undergo an abortion.


More particularly, it is worth drawing attention to following disastrous and unacceptable aspects of Ms Broad’s proposed Bill:

Given the already high level of abortions carried out each year in Victoria, the Bill does nothing to reduce the number of abortions - rather than relaxing abortion laws, Parliament should be toughening laws to protect the unborn.

As matters stand, should Ms Broad’s Bill be approved, the culture of death becomes more firmly entrenched in the State of Victoria - surely a matter of shame to all Victorians.

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About the Author

David Palmer is a minister of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

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