Opening statement re Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to address the committee regarding this bill.

Cherish Life believes that the current abortion debate is a moment in our state’s history that will affect the way people are treated throughout our society. For it is a debate about humanity itself, who we are as people, how we ought to live together and what meaning human life has. We believe every human, born and unborn, has the non-derogable right to life by virtue of who they are, members of the human family.

At the heart of this debate is the question, what are the unborn?

Ideas have consequences and the idea that the unborn child can be dehumanised as a non-person and excluded from the human family based on size, level of development, location or age, is a dangerous idea. And one that is seriously damaging, perhaps even destroying the credibility of human rights. We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life – the unborn - without diminishing the value of all human life.

Will we be a society that has a high respect for human life, putting moral restraints on our behavior in order to elevate the OTHER before the SELF, or will we arbitrarily decide that the unborn are non-persons and give women, whether by choice or coercion, disposal rights over their children.

The committee’s report on the first Pyne bill stated that there is no precedent in international law for the terms child, human being or human person to be interpreted to include a foetus.

Yet a foetus of human parents is obviously a human foetus. The science of embryology tells us the unborn are unique living and whole human beings from conception, actively involved in developing themselves from within. There is no essential difference between the adult you are today and the fetus you once were that would justify killing you at that earlier stage of development.

Therefore, all moral obligations and rights that apply to other members of the human family apply to the human foetus as well. If the unborn are human – which they are, then abortion is discrimination based on age and size.

Furthermore, abortion discriminates based on location. A 24-week baby in neonatal intensive care is protected from dismemberment, lethal injection or cranial decompression, regardless of the complex circumstances her mother faces, because of WHERE she is. But since when does location determine our value?

What occurs in an abortion is confronting.

In her just-published book entitled What the Nurse Saw: Eyewitness to Abortion, Brenda Pratt-Shafer, wrote of watching D&E dismemberment abortions on ultrasound, the babies frantically moving away from the forceps until they were ripped apart and died.

Brenda also witnessed a number of partial birth abortions, with babies 20 weeks and over being pulled out feet first after a three-day cervical dilation and being stabbed in the back of the neck and having their brains sucked out while their head was still in the birth canal.

Brenda said most of the women in the clinic she worked in were crying and upset. The women were lied to about the development of the unborn child, the fetal heart monitors were silenced and they were not shown an ultrasound because the clinic was a business, selling abortions. This did not look like choice to me.

The fact that there are many unwanted abortions due to a lack of real choice for women is illustrated by Frederica Mathews-Green, who said in her recent book Real Choices: “Women want an abortion like an animal in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.”

Abortion is not liberation. It is coercive deception. It is abandonment of our women at a most vulnerable time in their lives. It harms women because it violently interrupts the natural progression of pregnancy, with serious physical and psychological consequences.

Given its ineffectual late-term limit, the bill before the committee would allow this barbarism as a solution to crisis pregnancy.

The last thing women need is more permissive abortion laws, as Mr Pyne is proposing. Instead, they need whatever protection the current law can provide, as well as full and accurate information, real support and safeguards such as independent counselling and cooling-off periods.

If we want to reduce abortion, then we need a behavior change - and that starts with a change of heart that only the truth will transform.

The truth of what the unborn are and what abortion does to them and to women must be shared, because intentionally killing innocent humans is morally wrong and immoral acts result in unjust relationships that produce social suffering.

Martin Luther King, who fought for the right of all human beings to be treated equally, said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

It is the recognition of the inherent dignity and inalienable rights of ALL members of the human family that is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace.

Thank you.