Strong support for decriminalising abortion

SMH: Strong support for abortion heartens law reform supporters

Even among those wanting late-term abortion to remain unlawful, most thought doctors should not be sanctioned for carrying them out if such circumstances applied.

”In no circumstance did a majority indicate that a doctor should be sanctioned for terminating a pregnancy after 24 weeks’ gestation,” the authors said. ”Our findings challenge the belief that Australians strongly oppose women accessing late abortion.”

The survey was conducted in mid-2008 among 1050 randomly selected respondents. Seventeen per cent of female respondents indicated they had had an abortion themselves.

The lead author, the obstetrician Lachlan de Crespigny, told the Herald: ”This survey has graphically illustrated that criminalising women who are facing terrible decisions in pregnancy is not what Australians want. People are responsible; they don’t need to be criminalised to prevent them rushing to abortion late in pregnancy.”

Dr de Crespigny said that while Victoria had moved to decriminalise abortion, it technically remained a crime in NSW and Queensland albeit tempered by sympathetic court rulings.

I’m intrigued as to why a study undertaken in 2008 is only getting publicity now, but better late than never.


    Should abortion be lawful in first trimester?

  • 61 per cent yes
  • 26 per cent depends on circumstances
  • 12 per cent no
  • 1 per cent undecided
  • Should abortion be lawful in second trimester?

  • 12 per cent yes
  • 57 per cent depends on circumstances
  • 28 per cent no
  • 3 per cent undecided

Categories: law & order

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10 replies

  1. It is heartening and unsurprising to me, at least, after working on the periphery of abortion rights for 20-odd years. What I want to know is when the “right to choose” is going to be extended to the right to birth as women choose. The coroner’s decision in SA to fly in the face of science and decide that a stillborn baby was alive (when they were plainly dead) puts all abortion at risk in this country. Meanwhile birth rights are going under at a rate of knots and the silence around it is deafening.
    Bodily autonomy is all the same kettle of fish whether it’s choosing pregnancy, refusing pregnancy or birthing.

  2. With regards to the 2008 collection for 2010 release, the publisher of the article (eMJA) has a particularly stringent embargo rule on their work, so anything collected, submitted and enduring the peer review process cannot be openly publicised in media until the eMJA publishes the associated paper.
    Mark Textor of Crosby Textor (Advisors to Paying Political Parties Worldwide) headed up the data collection side of the project which is most interesting, given Textor’s connections in the wider political sphere. It’s also interesting that it was declared as a conflict of interest that he owns shares in the firm that did the data collection when he’s an author on the paper.
    Also, I heard this study discussed on TripleJ news this morning as “28% opposition to abortion” rather than 69% support (12% yes, 57% conditional). *sigh*

  3. May I ask what the rationale behind thirde-trimester abortion is? I don’t see a problem with a woman wanting the fetus out of her body, but after 24 weeks, a baby can survive. It may be that I, as a former pro-lifer, miss a point here, but why should a woman have the right to decide a viable baby should die?

  4. How many women decide viable babies will die in the third trimester for no good reason?

  5. @ Helen: what do you mean? I don’t know how many women have third-triemster abortions or would want them. However, what do you mean about a good reason? What would constitute a good reason to want a viable baby to die? Or were you meaning to say that not all 24-week fetuses will survive, which is true, but isn’t a reason for killing them IMO. I try to approach the issue of late-term abortion while respecting the woman’s right to do with her body as she plases, but aslo acknowledging the right to life of the viable baby.

    • Astrid, Helen means that viable foetuses are not generally being aborted in the third trimester. It’s not just that not all 24-week foetuses will survive premature birth, but that many non-viable abnormalities in the foetus do not manifest until this stage of gestation, and unless the pregnancy is terminated the woman then has to continue gestating a foetus that she knows will never be a living child. Who would want another person to go through unnecessary weeks and months of that emotional torture for a child that has absolutely zero chance of survival?

      • Clarification: a problematic ethical area comes with the increased incidence of late term abortions of foetuses with disabilities who would naturally progress to a full-term birth of a viable but disabled infant – people choosing to abort a foetus who is diagnosed with e.g. cystic fibrosis, haemophilia, dwarfism, milder forms of spina bifida, Down’s Syndrome etc.
        Many people currently living with these disabilities are understandably concerned that this trend positions them as people with lives that are not worth living, a categorisation that they vehemently reject.

  6. There’s a bill up in NZ proposing to decriminalise abortion at the moment; it’s being discussed at the Hand Mirror.
    Astrid: as well as Helen and tigtog’s point, sometimes the woman’s health can be severely at risk if she were to give birth, and there’s no rule saying this is always discovered prior to 24 weeks.

  7. Yes, my point is that women don’t suddenly wake up in the 26th week and go ooh! I want my flat tummy back! I’m bored with the whole idea now! Abortion nao!
    Whoever passes this stupid meme on doesn’t like women.
    Women who just don’t want to mother will know that soon after they feel the first nausea and miss the first period, like I did. For them/us, *early* abortion needs to be legal, safe and available on request, on Medicare.

  8. Janet @ 1 – the need for a baby to take a breath to be considered a person and so allow the coroner to investigate the reasons behind the death may be going away in SA:

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