Australian Abortion Wars

A lot has been happening in Australia the last few days concerning baby killing. Good news in one state was countered by bad news in another. But that is often how things go in the culture wars: there are ups and downs, but we keep on fighting nonetheless.

On some of these issues we must keep on keeping on. Indeed, as Margaret Thatcher once rightly said, “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” That is certainly true in something like the battle over marriage. During the past decade there have been around ten attempts to destroy marriage by the activists.

Bills put forward on a Federal, State or Territory level have been coming in fast and furious, but every single one of them so far has been defeated. But we dare not for a moment think that our job is done with this string of victories. The activists will not stop but will keep on pushing for homosexual marriage.

They believe that if they just keep at it, they will eventually wear us all down, and weaken our will to resist. Sadly that can often be the case. I for one will never buckle here, and I will fight this even if I am the last man standing. So I encourage all of you to remain vigilant and remain strong.

The same perseverance and commitment was of course needed by great social reformers of the past. Just think of how many years William Wilberforce had to fight the slave trade. Recall how year after year he introduced legislation on this, only to be defeated again and again. Yet he never gave up, and the rest is history.

We need the same mindset, the same resolve, when it comes to the abortion wars. We have had some wins along the way, as well as some losses. But we must keep at it nonetheless. So consider what has occurred in the past few days. First the good news.

In NSW Zoe’s Law has just been passed in the lower house. The vote was 63 to 26. As one news report puts it, “The bill was named in honour of the unborn child of Brodie Donegan, who was hit by a drug-affected driver on Christmas Day in 2009. Zoe was stillborn. The proposed changes would allow someone to be charged with harming a fetus that is either 20 weeks or 400 grams by allowing it to be treated as a living person.”

This law, if it goes through, is of course a small step in the right direction. Much more needs to be done to save the lives of the unborn, but this is a welcome step. And of course the pro-death crowd is already making a stink about this, claiming it infringes on a woman’s right to choose.

Well, it seems to me that any law which deters a woman from killing her own baby is a very good law indeed. But while this bit of good news happened to my north, to my south some bad news took place. Tasmania just passed a terrible bill decriminalising abortion.

The heavily amended private member’s bill was voted in yesterday, but it is still really bad news. As one news report states, “Tasmania will become the third Australian state to decriminalise abortion after the Legislative Council passed an amended reform package this morning following two marathon late-night debates this week.

“The Reproductive Health Bill removes abortion from the Criminal Code and pushes the existing requirement for two doctors to approve the termination of a pregnancy on medical or psychological grounds up to 16 weeks. The legislation passed nine votes to five.”

The changes are welcome, but the law is still draconian and out of place in a free society: “The upper house scrapped a proposed $32,500 fine for counsellors who don’t refer, specified that a doctor would fulfil their referral obligation by handing out a pamphlet listing appropriate services and clarified that a doctor could continue the consultation despite their objection, so long as they were open about it….

“It also reduced penalties for protesting within a 150 metre access zone around a clinic from a maximum $60,000 fine to a $9750 fine, but the maximum jail term of 12 months remained. However most MLCs said access zones were necessary. ‘No woman accessing a legal health service should be subject to any vilification from anybody,’ Western Tiers MLC Greg Hall said.”

Both secular and religious groups are upset with this legislation. An IPA press release put out before the final vote said in part: “Proposed changes contained in the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013 threaten freedom of speech and freedom of conscience,” said Simon Breheny, director of the Legal Rights Project at free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. “The bill proposes a fine of $65,000 or a 12 month jail term for the newly created crime of protesting in an area within a radius of 150 metres from an abortion clinic. This is an inappropriate limitation on freedom of speech. General laws against intimidation already exist in the law and they are appropriate restraints on unacceptable behaviour.”

Christian groups also expressed concern: “Christian groups outraged at the restriction on the right to protest yesterday told The Australian they would consider a legal challenge. Constitutional law expert Michael Stokes believed the protest ban was an infringement of the Constitution’s implied right to political communication.

“As well, the Catholic Church attacked provisions compelling doctors to give patients information about abortions, claiming they violated the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. ‘This bill has decriminalised abortion, but criminalised opposition to abortion,’ said the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous. ‘It puts Catholic hospitals and all Catholic medical practitioners in an invidious position’….

“Anti-abortion activists said protests outside clinics were rare in Tasmania, and that the legislation went way too far. ‘That 150m is enormous and could take in churches, cafes and a lot of the CBD,’ said FamilyVoice Australia spokesman Jim Collins. Mr Collins said the penalty – up to a year’s jail and a $9750 fine – applied whether the protest intimidated and harassed someone or was merely holding a prayer vigil or handing out pamphlets.

“Mr Stokes, an expert in constitutional and administrative law at the University of Tasmania who gave evidence to parliament on the legislation, said he believed the protest ban was likely to be struck out. ‘I think that blanket ban on protest is likely to fail if challenged in the High Court,’ Mr Stokes said. ‘Abortion is a political issue and this is a restriction (on communication).’

“Ms O’Byrne said: ‘This is an Australian first and it is incredibly important because a woman must be able to access a medical procedure without being subject to intimidation, stigmatisation, vilification or any other form of harassment. This is not about impeding on anyone’s right to free expression; it is about protecting women facing an incredibly difficult and complex decision’.”

So the battle continues. And these battles are not new. They have been fought elsewhere, with some wins and some losses. American pastor John Piper years ago gave sermons on these very matters. Let me conclude with some thoughts from him about rescuing, and disobeying bad laws.

In a sermon preached on January 15, 1989 called “Rescuing Unborn Children: Required and Right,” he said in part about Proverbs 24:11: “The duty of verse 11 could be stated like this: ‘If a group of humans is being taken away to death who ought not be taken away to death, the people who fear God ought to try to rescue them.’ Or, to use the words of the second half of the verse, ‘If there is a group of humans who are stumbling [literally: slipping] to the slaughter who ought not to be slipping to the slaughter, the people who fear God ought to try to hold them back from the slaughter.’ What is being commanded here is some kind of intervention from us when we become aware of humans being killed who ought not to be killed.”

He offers this illustration: “Suppose that I lived next door to a very mean-spirited man who was so hostile that he put up ‘Do not trespass’ signs all over the fence around his house mainly to keep me out. One day I hear children screaming from his back yard. I run to the fence and notice a little child choking on something. Instinctively I jump the fence, knowing it says no trespassing, and try to save the child. I’m too late. After a few days this mean-spirited man seeks a warrant for my arrest. I go into court and the judge, for reasons beyond his control, finds me guilty of trespassing and fines $50. Would I be disrespectful of the law, I asked Judge James Campbell, if I refused to pay?
He answered by saying, ‘In that case you should appeal the decision, because of a special legal reality called the law of necessity’.”

He said similar things in a 1991 sermon: “With regard to peaceful rescuing I stand where I did three years ago: It is not a crime to trespass to save human life. If a child is choking on a toy in his back yard surrounded by a fence that says, KEEP OUT, NO TRESPASSING, it is not a sin or a crime to jump the fence and try to save the child. If a child is trapped in the second story of a burning home, it is not a sin or a crime to put a ladder to the window and enter without permission to save that child.

“If a blind child is trapped in the median of a busy street and about to step into traffic, it is not a sin or a crime to cross the street and guide him to safety even if the sign says, ‘Cross only at crosswalk’. If a child is drowning in a lake where the sign says, ‘No swimming’ it is not a sin or a crime to rush into the water and rescue him. A word from God: The whole book of Esther was written to praise her courage and righteousness when she ‘illegally’ risked her life to save the Jews. ‘I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish’ (Esther 4:16). Therefore I support our people rescuing in Fargo and Wichita.”

I have spoken before about the possibility of civil disobedience in the face of bad abortion laws: billmuehlenberg.com/2009/05/06/abortion-and-civil-disobedience/

As we seek to overturn the bad law just passed in Tasmania, all believers who love life (and every believer should) will need to carefully and prayerfully consider becoming lawbreakers to rescue those being led to the slaughter.

www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/zoes-law-passes-the-nsw-lower-house/story-fni0xqi3-1226765208730
www.examiner.com.au/story/1923361/tasmania-to-decriminalise-abortion/?cs=95
ipa.org.au/publications/2172/freedom-of-speech-threatened-by-tasmanian-bill
www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/abortion-protest-ban-faces-challenge/story-fn59niix-1226765606595#
www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/rescuing-unborn-children-required-and-right
www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/abortion-rescuing-and-your-action

[1804 words]

19 Replies to “Australian Abortion Wars”

  1. I heard some comments from Mehreen Faruqi on the radio yesterday: “…then it becomes quite clear that the sole intention [of the NSW Bill] is to create ‘foetal personhood’ in this state, the very thing that legal and women’s groups most oppose about the bill.”

    Ah, “foetal personhood”…try BABY.

    Seriously though, these people must believe in transmogrification:

    In utero = foetus
    Ex utero = baby

    So what, some type of magical transmogrification takes place in the cervix? One moment a foetus, the next a baby.

    And another from Ms Faruqi:

    “If anyone needed any more evidence of the true intent of this bill – undermining women’s right to choose – they need look no further than the Reverend Fred Nile, who will be introducing it into the Upper House.”

    So the right of a Baby to enjoy the safest place in the world (the womb) is overridden by a matter of women’s convenience?

    Ms Faruqi’s words have left me just absolutely gobsmacked!

    So, if the supporters of this Bill were themselves pregnant, and lost their baby in utero to a crime against their personage, they ought be arguing that Zoe’s Law doesn’t apply to them…because they weren’t carrying a baby, just a blob of cells.

    There’s a great post by Matt Walsh’s sister on his blog site:

    http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/11/15/im-not-the-only-one-who-has-a-right-to-my-body/

    Matt Patchon

  2. “I for one will never buckle here, and I will fight this even if I am the last man standing. So I encourage all of you to remain vigilant and remain strong.”
    Amen says I to that. And we need to get onto the blogs which the ABC etc.put out there. Watch the “Conversation”- there was a thing on homosexual marriage and there were the defenders of the traditional marriage but the ad hominem attacks but the supporters of SSM were horrific.
    The thing was- they didn’t address the issues which were unassailable.
    I brought up two points were couldn’t be refuted.
    Point 1
    Were have laws protecting the sacred institutions of one group of Australians- namely, the Australian Aboriginal where we have federal laws which protect “sacred sites” form damage form development. These site have meaning to their culture an as such we are forced , by law, to recognise such cultural traditions. We may not understand or agree with the significance of such sites but we are forced to respect them.
    Similarly with the sacred institution of marriage to the Christian- the secular world may not understand the sacred significance of Holy Matrimony or even agree with it, but thats no reason to pass laws which amount to an utter disrespect of the cultural traditions and faith of the Christian. To the Christian, SSM is akin to blasphemy, from my understanding of the doctrine of my faith. I will defend it as surely as an Aborigine would defend a sacred site.
    What it tells me is that with the self-titled “progressive” side of politics who are promoting (the Greens e.g.) its not about the cause, its about the side. The Greens will protect the sacred institution of the Aboriginal yet trash the sacred institution of the Christian.
    Point 2.
    Use the precautionary principle to the issue of same-sex parenting.The precautionary Principle.
    “Born of environmental considerations, the precautionary principle has since matured into an ethical principle with a far broader scope and the potential value of the precautionary principle as a policy guide should be envisaged.”(UNESCO=World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST))
    The working definition is given:
    Precautionary Principle;
    When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm. Morally unacceptable harm refers to harm to humans or the environment that is:
    ? threatening to human life or health, or
    ? serious and effectively irreversible, or
    ? inequitable to present or future generations, or
    ? imposed without adequate consideration of the human rights of those affected.
    It refers to humans as well as the environment- and aren’t the children of same-sex couple humans?
    The judgement of plausibility should be grounded in scientific analysis. Analysis should be ongoing so that chosen actions are subject to review.
    Uncertainty may apply to, but need not be limited to, causality or the bounds of the possible harm.
    Actions are interventions that are undertaken before harm occurs that seek to avoid or diminish the harm. Actions should be chosen that are proportional to the seriousness of the potential harm, with consideration of their positive and negative consequences, and with an assessment of the moral implications of both action and inaction. The choice of action should be the result of a participatory process.
    Given that same-sex parenting is made possible only through reproductive technology,the method of procurement of offspring is therefore grounded in science, fertility control surely must come this legal principle.
    The summary of the PP is
    • there exist considerable scientific uncertainties; • there exist scenarios (or models) of possible harm
    that are scientifically reasonable (that is based on some scientifically plausible reasoning);
    • uncertainties cannot be reduced in the short term without at the same time increasing ignorance of other relevant factors by higher levels of abstraction and idealization;
    • the potential harm is sufficiently serious or even irreversible for present or future generations or
    otherwise morally unacceptable;
    • there is a need to act now, since effective counter- action later will be made significantly more difficult or costly at any later time.
    The basic human rights that children everywhere have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.
    The jury is still “out” on the question of whether a child can” to develop to the fullest” without the participation of the mother and the father- (preferably, but not always possible- the biological)
    and
    “to participate fully in family, cultural and social life.” again surely best with a mum and dad?
    I do recognise, of course, that through accident or divorce, there are many single parents, but this is a consequence of another agency and rarely a deliberate choice.
    Recent studies (ACHESS) seem to indicate the children were “developing well” although I guess its what can be expected from a survey in which the parents (80% female) only were interviewed. How about the right of the child to be heard? Also only covered a 500 person sample and over a relatively short time span. Anecdotally informed behavioural research-hmmm?
    Lets see some long-term, multi-generational research hey, BEFORE we change the laws- just as a precaution.
    Philip Murray Impey

  3. Forgot to add.
    We have to counter this meme in reference to SSM.
    “It will eventually happen, so we must get on the right side of history and pass the laws now”.
    The “right” side of history?
    History- a record of past events.
    By its nature, history is one-dimensional so how can there be two sides to history of which one is right and one is wrong?
    And the “right” or “wrong”.
    Or to rephrase- “good”and “evil”
    To quote Ravi Zacharias”
    “When you say there is evil, aren’t you admitting there is good?. When you accept the existence of goodness, you must affirm a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But when you admit to a moral law,you must posit a moral lawgiver…. (Therefore,)
    … if there’s is no moral lawgiver, there is no moral law and if there is no moral law there is no good. If there is no good there is no evil”. There is no right or wrong. So how then can the atheistic world talk in concepts of the “right” side of a one-dimensional concept.The moral lawgiver who gave us the good/evil differentiation is the same lawgiver who called homosexuality a sin.
    Like all post-modern thinking, the statement is illogical because it contains internal inconsistencies- it therefore is a null argument.
    Philip Murray Impey

  4. Hi Bill – thank you for this article. There’s certainly been a sad day in Tasmania, for us all: the babies who will have their lives ended; the mothers who often go ahead without being warned about what they’re really doing – and how they will suffer; the doctors and medics who will be forced to be complicit in the killing of another human being – even if just sending women to an abortion provider…
    And of course, the wider public. There’s already 1500+ abortions here each year. We’re praying this bad law won’t increase that carnage – and that God will mercifully enable us to bring life-loving legislation in the near future.

    Blessings & thanks for John Piper’s exhortations – they deserve to be broadcast far & wide!
    Jim Collins

  5. How exactly does one know how far 150 metres is without getting a tape measure? What happens if you don’t know about the 150 metre law and you pray outside a clinic? What happens if you live within a 150 meter radius of a clinic and you hold an anti-abortion prayer meeting inside your home? How about standing outside a clinic and praying silently without opening your mouth?
    If you lived next door to a clinic could you legally put up a sign on your own property that gives a potential patient some options?

    Rodney Gynther

  6. I suggest we mark out the exclusion zone with chalk, and put posters in the windows of adjacent businesses, if they are pro-life and agree to this. We should also make a map showing the exclusion zones and publish it far and wide.

    Kathy Clubb

  7. Bill rest assured you will not be the last man standing. There are many whose dertmination to fight will not be deterred by the actions of a few.

    David Grace

  8. Speaking of protesting I am reminded of the poor turnout at the March for the Babies.
    My wife was at a Uniting Church in eastern Melbourne recently (kids dance lessons) and saw on the notice board signs promoting the protest against the federal governments policies on climate change put up by ‘get up’.
    Here we have churches promoting a secular protest of very dubious value instigated by a very anti-christian organisation.
    How many churches promoted the ‘walk for the babies’?
    In light of the recent laws passed in Tasmania a ‘march for the babies’ needs to be heavily promoted there; with the interesting senario of what would happen if the route of the march went within 150m of an abortion clinic.

    David Horton

  9. I have written to the Governor-General deploring her advocacy of same sex ‘marriage’. She is supposed to be above politics yet she is using the Boyer lectures to trash marriage and champion Australia becoming a republic. No class.

    Her address:
    Government House
    Dunrossil Drive,
    Yarralumla, 2600

    Antonia Feitz

  10. Hi Bill
    Just finished reading a wonderful book called God’s Double Agent by Bob Fu. Mr. Fu escaped from China many years ago and was led by God to start ChinaAid, a group which assists Chinese dissidents to either leave China or fight injustices within the country.
    One of the people they assisted is a Chinese man named Chen Guangcheng. Chen is totally blind a a result of a childhood accident, but God has used him mightily to expose the horrors of the one child policy and forced abortions in China. As he expected, this brought him to the attention of the Chinese government, which imprisoned him for 4 years and 3 months and then placed him under house arrest along with members of his family. The government had walls built around his home, had 60 officers surrounding his home 24/7, and beat any visitors. The officers even placed hundreds of empty bottles on the floor of Chen’s home, so that if he tried to move around, he would knock over the bottles and alert his captors.
    For months, there was no contact with Chen, until he and his wife managed, in November 2011, to smuggle out a video of the conditions of their house arrest.
    China Aid encouraged people to send in photos of themselves wearing sunglasses like Chen’s, and many thousands responded to show their support. Even Christian Bale (star of the recent Batman trilogy) tried to visit Chen while he was in China making a movie in late 2011, but to no avail, as he was harrassed and attacked by Chinese thugs. All of this, of course was proving to be a public relations nightmare for the Chinese Communists.
    I will quote from Mr. Fu’s continuing story of Mr. Chen:
    “Meanwhile Chen hatched a planof escape. For two months, he pretended to be sick and stayed in bed every day. When he was sure the guards no longer saw him as a mobility threat, he made his move. Somehow, he managed to navigate through the glass bottles, escape the house, jump eight tall walls, and walk through the fields and small roads for nineteen hours. The blind man evaded over one hundred guards- those who were stationed near his bedroom, along the major roads, and even in the village. During his late night journey, he fell many times and even broke several small bones in his foot. Yet he kept going.” I don’t know about you, but when I read this account, it was all I could do not to shout Hallelujah! Shades of Peter escaping from prison! And this is a man who doesn’t even know Jesus!
    It was several more months before Chen eventually found sanctuary in the U.S.
    China has recently overturned their one child policy which has resulted in the deaths of 400 million unborn. The official line is that they needed more working age citizens to cater for an aging population, but I wonder how much the story of Chen and others like him encouraged them in their decision.
    Bill, I believe the Scripture which says “be not weary in well-doing, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9) is a word for you and for all the others who are striving mightily in this battle.
    God bless
    Vic Trudeau

  11. Tasmania is now the State where Freedom of peaceful assembly has been eliminated. This profound & fundamental loss needs to be broadcast far and wide. This CANNOT be allowed to happen in any part of our Commonwealth. I for one will think seriously about any visit to Tasmania until such time as this ban on Freedom of Speech in any part of the State has been repealed.

    Jeremy Orchard

  12. Received an email from a concerned Tasmanian close to me: Subject line – “we should abort our government” … For the ethical health of the island state and our nation we ought petition Heaven for guaranteed access to a “termination” of that government’s tenuous grip on the reins of government. “Carthago delenda est.”.

    John Wigg

  13. I call upon the Tasmanian Government to establish access zones around premises where reparative therapy is offered, to prevent the intimidation and harassment of those seeking this service.

    Michael Watts

  14. Hi, Bill — Regarding this article, you quoted the Tasmania’s The Examiner “The Reproductive Health Bill removes abortion from the Criminal Code and pushes the existing requirement for two doctors to approve the termination of a pregnancy on medical or psychological grounds up to 16 weeks.”

    However, I see it is not clear from your article that abortion is legal up to full-term in Tasmania.

    That is, abortion is now legal in that state, on demand up to 16 weeks, and, then, with the approval of two doctors from 16 weeks up to birth. (As we know, The Examiner and other MSM are deliberate and cautious in the way they handled this.)

    Anyway, this following article from LifeNews made it clearer of what has really happened in Tasmania:

    http://www.lifenews.com/2013/11/24/tasmanias-legalization-of-abortion-up-to-birth-a-warning-for-new-zealand/

    You might want to clarify this for your readers, because I already know of two people who read your article (above) and did not realise the extent of this new Tasmanian abortion legislation. You are right, though, regarding it is truly a war – a war on these little children, who are totally defenseless.

    I should add:

    Effectively, though, this new Tasmanian abortion law is still on demand after 16 weeks. Because here in SA, where abortion is legal (for now) up to 28 weeks, it works like this: the abortionist is one of the doctors (who is happy to do the abortion) , and the anaesthetist at the same clinic is generally the other doctor, (who likewise is happy to take the blood money).

    More to the point, how horrific it all is!!! God must be weeping for these poor children, as well as angry of how pathetic the Christian community in Australia (which includes me) has become. After all, we are suppose to be the salt and the light to our society.

    Regards

    Trevor Grace (SA)
    PS
    You may have already seen this great video, re the 25 week prem baby:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/ward-miles-miraculous-first-year_n_4319249.html

  15. Dear Bill, Thank you for your article.It really is sad and worrying for Australia with the introduction of all these evil bills.

    However, it is the sheer hypocrisy of the promoters of abortion on demand which angers me most and the sheer uselessness of the so called press corps who are supposed to be logical, analytical and critical and ask the hard questions.

    I heard Natasha Spott-Despoa, the former MP and Democratic Party leader speaking passionately a few days ago to the National Press Club on child abuse and how it should not be tolerated in our homes,schools,kindergartens etc etc or words to that effect.

    Now everyone knows what this rabid feminists position was on abortion when she was in the public glare and what it probably still is so I would have thought that there would have been just one journalist in the audience that would have been incensed enough at her hypocrisy to challenge her with asking her why she didn’t include women’s wombs because that is where most of the abuse is going on. Not surprisingly the ‘useful idiots’ who make up the Press Corps just sat there and failed to expose her sheer hypocrisy and politically correct opportunism.

    By jumping on this popular bandwagon complete with all its accolades Stott-Despoa like many others shows she is more interested in her own glory than the helpless abused children she purports to defend. If she wasn’t she would mention the most abused group of children who reside in their mother’s wombs through no fault of their own.Until she says that abortion is the ultimate in child abuse she is nothing but a hypocrite and an opportunist and if I had the opportunity I would not mince my words and I would tell her so to her face.

    Patricia Halligan

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