Nastasha Stott Despoja is introducing into Parliament the Transparent Advertising and Notification of Pregnancy Counselling Services Bill. Why is this necessary? Because Tony Abbott is seeking to increase funding to pregnancy counselling services.
Abbott’s move looks reasonable until you realise that both existing and future federal funding for pregnancy counselling only goes to pro-life organisations, and that Abbot’s avowed purpose is to lower the abortion rate without funding pro-choice organisations that traditionally offer full sex education and contraceptive advice as well as advice regarding the three options for an unplanned pregnancy: adoption, abortion and keeping the baby.
The pro-life pregnancy counsellors are under no obligation to be honest about whether they offer the full range of family planning options, and in other countries have a record of being deceptive and stringing women along until it is too late to take the abortion option, so that they have to complete the pregnancy with the health and employment risks that entails. Stott-Despoja’s bill would compel such services to be honest in their advertising and up-front services description about their refusal to refer pregnant women to abortion providers.
Charles Richardson of Crikey! points out that working only on lowering the abortion rate without concurrent funding for education and contraception is pure foolishness, and that “safe, legal and rare” is being cynically and/or misguidedly misinterpreted, depending on who is jumping on the bandwagon:
“But targeting the abortion rate in isolation makes no sense. It would be like announcing that the rate of open-heart surgery is too high. In one sense, yes – it would be good for any medical procedure to be needed less. But if people need open-heart surgery, they should have it: the proper way to reduce it is to reduce the incidence of heart disease.”
The honest provision of pregnancy counselling should not require a Bill of Parliament, but so long as it does let’s ask that the two existing pro-choice pregnancy counselling services in QLD and NSW get their fair share of the increased funding pie as well.