Exactly twenty-five years ago, August 1994, Australia’s leading practitioner of late-term abortion gave a lecture at Monash University on ‘Abortion after 20 weeks’. A director of Planned Parenthood at the time, this particular Queensland doctor explained how he would do late abortions for reasons such as ‘the woman not knowing she was pregnant’ and ‘minor or doubtful abnormalities’.
Later that year, when I brought his lecture to public attention, the doctor informed ABC’s 7.30 Report that his method of choice for abortion after 20 weeks was ‘essentially a breech delivery where the foetus is delivered feet first… and then when the head of the foetus is brought down into the top of the cervical canal… it is decompressed with a puncturing instrument so that it fits then through the cervical opening.’
A decade later, on 60 Minutes in 2006, the same doctor was asked point-blank, ‘Do you pierce the baby’s head with a sharp instrument?’ and he replied, ‘I’m not going to discuss details or specifics about procedures because I don’t think that you or the public needs to know.’
The public and its representatives in parliament seem happy not to know. Instead, we see the New South Wales Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019 throwing open the doors to late-term abortion ‘on demand’ by any method, no matter how abhorrent, up to 22 weeks, the age of the youngest premature babies in our hospital nurseries.
Such is the degradation of our culture. In 1994, the AMA condemned the aforementioned doctor as being ‘on his own in defending this practice’ and the Queensland Coalition called for a commission of inquiry. A quarter century later, the AMA is barracking for what it once condemned and the Liberal Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, is backing the abortion-to-birth Bill.
Progressives in our parliaments are concerned about many things. Asylum seekers, for instance – but not these asylum seekers. Not those little refugees at the border of life. They are concerned about domestic violence, aren’t they? But not this ultimate domestic violence where a man and woman will turn on their own flesh and blood and put it to death, with parliament’s blessing and funding.
And progressives want girls to be able to do anything, don’t they? Except be born. Just last week we learned of an Indian province where none of the 216 babies born in the last three months were girls. This multicultural misogyny of sex-selection abortion will be given the green light under the NSW law, since no reason at all is required for abortion under 22 weeks. Any reason will do, including sex-selection, no questions asked.
A GP colleague of mine in Victoria, Mark Hobart, has already confronted this ethical nightmare under that state’s similar law. He was approached by an Indian couple at 19 weeks of pregnancy who wanted an abortion because they were having a girl and they only wanted a boy.
Do progressives think that fostering this abominable practice of sex-selection abortion, this cultural contempt for girls is striking a blow for feminism? Do they count it a triumph for women if our law affirms the ancient fantasy of feral men who seek sex without consequence, backed up by abortion on demand? Do they not care that the normalising of abortion will only intensify the epidemic of mental and emotional harm to women, coerced and panicked into creating a place of death in their bodies where there should be a place of life?
This savage law not only facilitates female feticide but blurs abortion into infanticide. It allows abortion beyond 22 weeks right up to birth for any reason, even social or financial, that satisfies two abortion doctors. And incredibly, any doctor who refuses to refer a late-term baby to her death will be breaking the law in NSW! By refusing to give a referral to that couple who asked for sex-selection abortion at 19 weeks, Dr Hobart broke the law in Victoria which requires conscientious objectors to refer on for abortion – just as GPs in NSW will be breaking the law if they refuse to sentence a 19-week unborn baby girl to death for the crime of being a girl.
The only option here is civil disobedience: GPs should refuse to collaborate with this ‘unjust law, which carries the hallmarks of totalitarianism’. Those are the words of Frank Brennan, former chair of the National Human Rights Consultation Committee, describing the conscience-crushing Section 8 of the Victorian abortion law which is replicated in Section 8 of the NSW law. Brennan was also a member of the recent Religious Freedom Review, which reported to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. But will the PM’s proposed legislation for religious liberty give meaningful protection to doctors and nurses – even non-religious doctors and nurses – against coercion of conscience on this matter of life and death?
NSW is the last state domino to fall on abortion and marks the end of a more just and decent era, looking back to the Bourne case in 1938 where Justice Macnaghten declared: ‘The law of the land has always held that human life is sacred and the protection the law gives to human life extends also to the unborn child in the womb. The unborn child in the womb must not be destroyed unless the destruction of the child is for preserving the still more precious life of the mother.’
That ethical seriousness has been trashed. We now live under laws, red in tooth and claw, that give no protection whatsoever to ‘the unborn child in the womb’. We are becoming morally a society of dingoes amongst whom no baby is safe.
How did it come to this, and what is there left to love and fight for in a land that sacrifices its young, formally in law, on the altar of male libido and feminist spite?
David van Gend is a Toowoomba GP and state spokesman for the World Federation of Doctors who Respect Human Life.