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Criminalizing Dissent in the guise of decriminalizing abortion

by | Mar 14, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

At NRL News Today, we try to provide as much International news as time and space allows. I supposed any American pro-lifer’s first response to a story about Tasmania would be, “Huh?” If you’re like me, you wouldn’t even know that Tasmania is an island state, part of the Commonwealth of Australia.

But what the leaders of this little territory of just over a half-million people are proposing is simply frightening: to stifle pro-life disagreement, indeed to criminalize it.

You can read Mishka Gora opinion piece in its entirety. So let me just highlight some of the lowlights of a bill introduced on International Women’s Day.

As she begins Gora is almost droll. You would think by the tenor of the discussion over the new measure that abortion is illegal or strictly limited. It is neither. While technically it is in the criminal code, abortion has effectively been legal in Australian states for more than 40 years.

“The number of prosecutions in all that time can be counted on one hand,” Gora writes. “So why the sudden enthusiasm for decriminalization?

And then the nub of her analysis and the genuinely scary conclusion which she buttresses in the remainder of her article. “[T]he real aim of the Labor-Green coalition which is running Tasmania is to criminalize abortion dissent,” she writes. “With only two weeks for the public to respond, the Health Minister, Michelle O’Byrne, has drafted what may be most draconian abortion law anywhere.”

Examples abound, but let me offer just two. Gora writes

“If this bill passes, a part-time volunteer counsellor for an organization supporting pregnant women could be jailed for a year and fined up to $65,000 if she refuses to refer a woman to a place where she can get an abortion. The bill’s definition of a counsellor includes anyone who gives ‘advice or information relating to pregnancy options’ and ‘whether or not for fee or reward.’  Overnight, all agencies which disagree with abortion will be forced to shut down.

“Medical practitioners will be obliged under threat of a $65,000 fine to make referrals if they have a conscientious objection. To anyone who believes that an unborn child has a right to life making a referral means cooperating with evil. The proposed laws are coercing participation in the overall process of abortion procurement.”

Gora’s powerful conclusion is a reminder of the inspiration for the new proposal and its targets

“The reasons behind this new legislation are also worrying. It is clearly aimed at allowing terminations on grounds that are not apparent prior to 12 weeks. Indeed, the Health Minister cited genetic abnormalities at the 20-week mark as a motivation for the change. This is blatant discrimination, and it sends the message that discrimination on such grounds as gender or disability is socially and legally acceptable. An accompanying information paper also blurs the distinction between abortion and contraception, extending the right of choosing when to reproduce (or not) to include abortion (which unlike contraception takes place after reproduction has occurred).Tasmanian legislators are being offered a choice between abortion at any stage and abortion at any stage plus criminalizing dissent…”

Categories: Abortion