Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Brutal Bill

On 11 September the Victorian Lower House passed the Abortion Law Reform Bill. It comes before the Upper House (the Legislative Council) on 7 October.
I am very deeply concerned about this law. If it is passed, unborn babies will have no rights at all under law, and abortion providers will be able to perform abortions with no effective constraints right up until 40 weeks gestation.
This new law allows abortions for any reason up to 24 weeks. No consultation with a doctor is required: a nurse or pharmacist can supply or administer a drug to cause abortion without reference to a doctor.
After 24 weeks, all that is necessary is that two doctors agree that the abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances. These two doctors could be employees or owners of the abortion provider business (and thus recipients of the fees generated by the abortion). Under the Evidence Act 1958, it will not be possible to test the beliefs of these two consenting doctors because of doctor-patient privilege. This means that there could be no evidence by which proceedings for professional misconduct could be brought. This in effect means we will have abortion on demand up to 40 weeks gestation. There is a Victorian doctor who has gone on record as saying that he is willing to perform late abortions for socio-economic reasons. Many commentators have pointed out that this law appears as if it was written by the abortion-provider industry.
The law compels a nurse or pharmacist employed by a hospital or day-procedure centre, if directed in writing by a doctor, to administer or supply a drug to case an abortion, right up to 40 weeks gestation.
It also requires doctors, nurses, pharmacists and psychologists who have a conscientious objection to abortion, to refer a women requesting an abortion to another practitioner who the practitioner knows does not have a conscientious objection to abortion. Failure to refer could result in a charge of professional misconduct, resulting in loss of employment or even deregistration
The law does not impose any constraints on the method of late-term abortion: some techniques for terminating a late-to-full-term baby’s life and removing its body from the uterus are shockingly inhuman, such as the ‘partial-birth method’.
I watched the Grand Final between Hawthorn and Geelong, and was conscious of the thousands missing at the event: these are the potential players and spectators who were not present because their life was taken away before birth. Hundreds of thousands of our children have gone missing. When Jesus said ‘Let the little children come to me’ he expressed compassion for the weak and the vulnerable, who were seeking his blessing. From the earliest times, Christians were known for their opposition to infanticide and abortion. During the Roman Empire they use to rescue babies abandoned on rubbish heaps.
One of the reasons I oppose this law is due to my experience of working as a trainee chaplain in a women’s hospital. Australian mothers and fathers generally regard late-term foetuses as their children. When they are born prematurely and die, they are grieved, named, held in their mother’s arms, and funerals are conducted for them. For this law to treat the unborn as having no rights or identity goes against decades of pastoral experience caring for women and babies, and it goes against ethical common sense.
There are many ethical complexities associated with abortion, yet we have apparently swung so far towards making ‘choice’ an idol that we are willing sacrifice our children to this monster through an amazingly brutal law.
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Further Resources and Action Points
I can commend Archbishop Hart’s pastoral letter, at: http://www.cam.org.au/abortion/pastoral-letter-and-day-of-intercession.html
There are also useful resources at:
http://www.mattsprotest.com/
‘Matt’ is a business man who is protesting the law on the steps of parliament every day until the matter is resolved in Parliament. Why not drop by during the day and encourage him.
A double-sided information sheet from FamilyVoice is at the back of the church, with contact details of Legistlative Council members – please consider writing to them this week.
Sunday October 6 is a Day of Prayer on this issue. There is a prayer event from 1.45 to 2.45 pm on the steps of Parliament House. Please consider attending. One politician said ‘Unless I see 10,000 or more Christians on the steps of Parliament, then I'm not listening, because they obviously don't care.’

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