For the past seven years I have been attending The Rally for Life, passionately advocating for legislative change and loving both mother and baby. Finally, after 25 years “necessary reforms” are being made to Western Australia’s abortion legislation.
Western Australia is at important crossroads. The Western Australia Health Minister asserts that this Bill is about ‘modernising’ healthcare, yet these ‘reforms’ are taking us backwards. A few weeks ago, In Saturday’s The West, Western Australia Health Minister, Amber-Jade Sanderson also said I was spreading ‘misinformation’ about the Abortion Bill and ‘scaring’ the community with the amendments in our petition. What the Minister should have done, is check Hansard which revealed everything we were saying, was in fact correct. Funny how those who cry ‘misinformation’ are often the main purveyors of it.
The petition calls for the inclusion of South Australian provisions in Western Australia but was labelled a “misinformation campaign” from the “pro-life Christian lobby”, by the Minister. I wrote a response to The West, correcting this so-called misinformation.
Ironically, Minister Sanderson boldly asserted that no babies are born alive after an abortion, disregarding evidence from various states, including Western Australia’s Hansard. Contrary to her claims, available data reveals a different story. As of 24 March 2022, there have been 31 documented cases between 20 May 1998 and 31 December 2021 where Western Australia babies showed signs of life after abortion procedures but were left to die. Some babies were incompatible with life, but The Minster contradicts her claim that these do not occur when she admits that a small number of babies pass away post abortion.
The amendments we propose, dismissed by Minister Sanderson, have found acceptance in South Australia. It seems our South Australian counterparts care more about the dignity of the most vulnerable – than Western Australia parliamentarians. In states where late term abortions have been made easily accessible, there has been a significant number of so called ‘failed’ abortions – where the baby is born alive. Victoria and Queensland require these cases to be reported. Between 2010 and 2020, 328 babies in Victoria were born alive as a result of an abortion procedure, and 398 in Queensland.
These babies were left to die without any medical or palliative care. Hence South Australia included a provision that babies born alive as a result of a late term abortion, must be given the same medical care as would be given to babies born prematurely.
The Western Australia Bill further fails to include other important South Australian revisions. This includes honouring gender equality by banning gender-selective abortions, providing comprehensive abortion related Information, and mandatory considerations prior to late term abortions.
The Western Australia Bill potentially allows late term abortions for psychosocial reasons, essentially permitting abortion up until birth without specific justifications. Numerous surveys indicate that late term abortions – at a time when the baby could survive into adulthood if born prematurely- lack significant public support.
Irrespective of whether you are pro-life, or pro-choice, Western Australia’s reforms fail miserably on several fronts and does not bring Western Australia into line with best practice. Western Australia deserves better. Babies deserve better. Mothers deserve better.
Finally, if the Minster is truly as pro- choice as she claims, then she should have no issue with the South Australian amendment that gives women who seek abortions, balanced and compassionate information about the psychological, emotional and physical implications of the procedure. Women deserve independent counselling where they can ask appropriate questions without feeling pressured.
Given that surveys consistently show over 50% of women who have had abortions felt pressured to do so, this surely would be supported by anyone who says they are ‘pro-choice’. Why would we withhold this crucial support from women?
Outlining these points aren’t about scaring the community as the Minister claims, but highlighting areas of concern based on factual data. I do believe this legislation should be rejected on principle, but at the very least This Bill must be referred to the Legislation Committee for careful review.
Dismissing the hard truths in this debate does a disservice to the women and babies at the heart of this issue. As we move forward, let’s do so with empathy, truth and a commitment to defend the dignity and value of every vulnerable life. Surely that is something every Australian can support.
The Abortion Reforms Bill has passed the Legislative Assembly and will be debated in the Legislative Council this week. Our Western Australia petition, sponsored by the Hon. Kate Doust, will be presented on Tuesday 29th August.
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