A false concept of moral equivalence

A false concept of moral equivalence

Babette Francis

During the cold war era, the intelligentsia of the Left regarded - and wrote - of the USA and the USSR as if these two countries were morally equivalent like two football teams, and it didn't matter from a moral perspective which team won. To remind younger readers who may not have learned about the differences between the USA and the USSR, one difference was the USSR murdered millions of its own citizens, while the USA did not.

The same game of moral equivalence is played in Australia in the abortion debate, at Federal and Victorian level, with the three pregnancy options of giving birth, adoption and abortion treated as morally equivalent choices. Similar to the USSR death toll, millions of unborn babies die as a result of the abortion option.

Pregnancy counselling

At the Federal level, Democrat Senator Stott-Despoja introduced 'The Transparent Advertising and Notification of Pregnancy Counselling Services Bill' in 2005, to 'promote transparency by mandating that pregnancy counselling services which do not refer for terminations of pregnancy must provide a statement to this effect in any advertising material...'.

The Bill was referred to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee which reported in 2006 that the Bill not be supported because 'Overall the Bill seeks, in the Majority's opinion, to hamper the efforts of those pregnancy counselling services which do not refer for abortion by imposing specific requirements for transparency without imposing equivalent provisions on other services, such as those linked to abortion providers ...

'Rather than hindering the work of those pregnancy counselling services which offer support to women facing a crisis pregnancy to choose an alternative to abortion we should be grateful for this community service, largely carried out by volunteers. The Commonwealth should be finding ways to foster and enhance this work, not undermine it...'.

'Women's autonomy' is the much touted buzz word and rationale for the (pro-terminating the life of the fetus) Victorian Law Reform Commission's 'Law of Abortion - Final Report', tabled in the Victorian Parliament in late May. The VLRC was constrained by its Terms of Reference requiring that it present options for decriminalising abortion. But, as Charles Francis, AM, QC, pointed out to VLRC Chairman, Professor Neil Rees, they could have requested additional terms of reference.

Not only did they not do so, they rejected every one of the recommendations in pro-life submissions which might have reduced the incidence of abortion, e.g., cooling-off time, parental consent for minors, providing ultrasound pictures of the fetus, and provision of information on the risks of psychological damage, increased breast cancer, future premature births, and the connection to cerebral palsy and future infertility. Nor did the VLRC recommend gestational limits on abortion or acknowledge fetal pain in late-term abortions.

The VLRC rationale for rejecting pro-life recommendations is that these restrict 'women's autonomy' (a phrase used incessantly). But how does it restrict women's autonomy to provide information?

The raison d'etre for decriminalising abortion is that it be treated like any other medical procedure; but in no other medical procedures are surgeons reluctant to show the patient x-rays or ultrasounds of what is being operated on. The VLRC has uncritically accepted the views of abortion proponents, even though, as Archbishop Hart has pointed out, the abortionists' livelihoods depend on performing abortions.


One of the worst recommendations in the VLRC report is the rejection of anti-coercion legislation because 'there is no hard evidence of coercion', despite evidence in the books of Anne Lastman (Redeeming Grief) and Melinda Tankard Reist (Giving Sorrow Words), and in legal cases cited by Charles Francis and Michael Houlihan where there was coercion and in which settlements were obtained for the women concerned.

Rejecting anti-coercion legislation makes clear that the VLRC is not on the side of the angels (i.e., giving birth or adoption) because if there is no coercion as claimed, the legislation will do no harm, and it might do good by deterring bullying. However, the VLRC's assertion is not supported by its own cited evidence from articles in the Medical Journal of Australia and the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health that 'Partner violence is the strongest predictive factor of pregnancy termination in Australian women'. If domestic violence is not coercive what is?

The VLRC focus on 'women's autonomy' being of greater value than the life of their unborn children almost suggests that pregnant women are imprisoned in dungeons and deprived of freedom, food and fresh air for nine months' duration. This concept of pregnant women being automatons is also articulated in an article, 'Abortion and the full humanity of women: nearly there', by Jo Wainer in the CSIRO publication Sexual Health.

Wainer here seems to infer that women belong to some sub-species and only when abortion is decriminalised will they evolve by some Darwinian process into being fully human.

Wainer makes insinuations about the influence of Irish Catholicism and religious belief on the abortion debate. She is right to the extent that this is a spiritual battle, but science is on our side and is what abortion promoters really fear. Not only are women fully human but ultrasound shows that so are the babies in their wombs.

Babette Francis is the National and Overseas Co-ordinator of Endeavour Forum Inc., a NGO having special consultative status with the Economic & Social Council of the UN (babette_at_@endeavourforum.org.au)

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