Australia

"Speak up for those yet to be born" Christians told as Abortion bill is debated

Religious leaders are calling for MPs to oppose a bill to loosen abortion laws in New South Wales.

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“I appeal for a respectful debate concerning abortion and I urge MPs to use their conscience vote to reject this bill”, said Glenn Davies the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney. “It is not appropriate to rush this bill without widespread community consultation.”

“All life, whether born or unborn, holds intrinsic value and worth. Unborn babies should not be treated as any less human just because they have not yet passed through the birth canal,” said Greg Bondar NSW Director of FamilyVoice Australia, a Christian advocacy group.

“New attempts to make abortion even more widely available in NSW are deeply troubling,” said Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop, Anthony Fisher OP.

The Australian Christian Lobby’s NSW Director Kieren Jackson points out that “Supporters of decriminalisation have expressed support for the Queensland and Victorian model, which is among the most radical in the world. It allows abortion right up to the moment of birth, which is barbaric and extreme.”

NSW is the only state where abortions are illegal, according to a provision in the state’s Crimes Act 1900. Currently, women in NSW can have a “lawful” abortion if a doctor believes their physical or mental health is in serious danger by continuing the pregnancy.

The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019, a private member’s bill, will be introduced to parliament this week by independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich.

The bill would would allow for abortion on request for women up to 22 weeks gestation. After 22 weeks, the opinions of two doctors are required to agree that the abortion should be performed. The criteria for a later abortion are:

• consideration of “all medical circumstances”, and

• “current and future” physical, psychological and social circumstances.

For some, the bill’s aim of decriminalising abortion in NSW simply cleans up the law, that currently makes part of the job that some doctors do routinely illegal.

But critics of the bill cite the lack of requirement for a cooling-off period or counselling. Doctors and other health practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion would need to refer the person or transfer their care to someone who will perform the termination. For some doctors, that would violate their conscientious objection to having any involvement in an abortion.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the bill has more co-sponsors than any piece of legislation in the history of the NSW Parliament, including two ministers as well as Labor, Nationals, Greens and Animal Justice MPs. The bill has strong support from within the Coalition government. Supporters include the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

ACL’s spokesperson for women and children, Wendy Francis said, “Technology has come a long way. Medicine now allows life-saving operations on unborn babies which this law also allows to be destroyed.”

“This week, NSW government minister Andrew Constance censored a billboard which simply said, ‘a heart beats at 4 weeks.’ This government won’t even allow the simple truth concerning human development to be known, so it cannot be trusted to act objectively on this issue,” Francis said.

Eternity reported the billboard removal here.

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