29 June 2022

If you think US decisions on abortion don't affect us, think again

| Zoya Patel
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Pro-abortion protest

Pro-abortion protest in the US. Photo: Photo: Gayatri Malhotra.

This past week has been tough for a lot of women. Watching the US Supreme Court overturn the Roe v Wade decision, effectively allowing states to re-criminalise abortion at their will, has caused many to reflect on just how flimsy women’s rights can be.

While it might seem like an American court ruling has very little to do with our rights here in Australia, the decision is actually a sobering insight into how easily progress can be wound back at the will of lawmakers, politicians and others in positions of power.

Australian abortion laws, much like the US, are the jurisdiction of states and territories – and it was only last year that South Australia became the final Australian state to decriminalise abortion, with the law coming into effect on 7 July 2022. That’s right – even today, women are forced to travel to access what should be a basic, affordable and easily available medical treatment.

READ ALSO Roe V Wade was overturned: but is safe access to abortion as easy as you think here?

When the Roe v Wade decision was made by the US Supreme Court in 1973, it was a truly radical moment of progress. To have a traditional institution in a country that was still heavily influenced by religious beliefs acknowledge and enshrine in law a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body was a massive step in the direction of gender equality.

That ruling has been a reference point for other countries as they have negotiated abortion rights in their own contexts – and unfortunately, the overruling of it may equally be seen as a signal to the international community that women’s rights can be taken away as easily as they were withheld for centuries.

Alarmingly, the support for the Supreme Court decision among conservative Americans has shown that there is still significant opposition to female bodily autonomy, and if that’s true of America, it’s undoubtedly true of Australia too.

As a young woman, that terrifies me. It scares me for myself, but also for my nieces, my friends and my community. An unplanned pregnancy can have a disastrous effect on a woman. The implications of pregnancy and childbirth, and the prospect of raising a child or seeking alternative options, can effectively derail a woman’s life.

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I’ve had numerous friends access abortions, and having that option has been absolutely fundamental to their future life outcomes. One small procedure has made it possible for them to live the lives that they want and to contribute to society, build careers and forge communities that would never have been possible had they been forced to single-handedly raise a child at a point in their life when they weren’t equipped to do so.

Regardless of how many men tell us that we should be more careful, that contraception if our responsibility, that sex before marriage is a risk we knowingly take (as though marriage would make unplanned pregnancy automatically welcome), we know that reality is more complicated than the lofty beliefs of men who claim to be ‘pro-life’.

Contraception is not always effective. Consensual sex is not the only form of intercourse that might result in pregnancy. Pregnancy can be dangerous for women with other health issues. Sometimes things just happen, and an unplanned pregnancy occurs.

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Access to safe and affordable abortions has been instrumental in helping women escape poverty, remain in education, participate in the workforce and avoid injury or even death from seeking alternative ways to terminate a pregnancy.

The prospect of returning to a time of illegal and unsafe abortions, or unwanted pregnancies being carried to term is genuinely frightening. It makes me wonder what other rights can be taken away from women on the grounds of morality based on religion?

We need to be aware of this possibility, and stay ready to act should our reproductive rights come under threat here. I’m worried, and the women I know are worried too. If it can happen in America, it can happen in Australia.

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Studies have shown that some people can’t mind their own business.

To have children or not, to end life or not is nobody’s business but those involved. The rest can but out.

Franky, why is there so much invested in mental health and suicide prevention then if the decision to “end life or not is nobody’s business but those involved”?

Studies have shown that the main reason women have an abortion is because they “weren’t financially prepared” or “partner-related”. These are some extremely trivial reasons that completely cheapens the value of life and pregnancy in society. It’s not good enough that woman can have a back out clause or returns policy months into their pregnancy for financial reasons (so you didn’t know you couldn’t afford kids beforehand?) or because they broke up with their partner/had an argument. People claim it is all about giving women choice but a very small proportion are actually due to potential psychological or physical harm of mother or child.

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5957082/

People need to wake up to the reality we aren’t helping women who have just been raped but we are facilitating woman changing their minds and backing out of a life changing decision because they know they have an out clause.

“People claim it is all about giving women choice …” It IS about giving women choice, Sam Oaks, rather than having religious zealots like you make the decision for them.

If you think abortion is wrong, don’t have one. That doesn’t mean noone should have the option. Unless you’re willing to raise all the children that are unwanted, maybe keep your opinions off my uterus.

JS while I’m all for women’s right and giving them a choice but I don’t think the choice should be as trivial as choosing your hair colour or the clothes you wear.

If I see a mother abusing their child to the point of physical harm or death in public I don’t walk away and say it’s none of my business. I make it my business and it is society’s business. What’s the difference between that and someone terminating their pregnancy literally days before birth just because they changed their minds? Sorry but I don’t agree it is not my business and feel like it is my duty as a member of society to speak out against it.

Yes, Sam Oak, you are entitled to speak out against abortion and to ‘step in’ if you see “a mother abusing their child to the point of physical harm or death in public”. The difference is that the former is legal in every jurisdiction in Australia whereas the latter is illegal in every jurisdiction in Australia. Just as it would be illegal for you to in some way intervene if a woman is trying to access abortion services.

You can push your religious opinion as much as you like, but the harsh reality for you is that the only opinion that counts is the ballot box. Thankfully, opinions like yours, on women’s right to choose, have been well and truly defeated at the ballot boxes in every state and territory.

Opinions change at the ballot box all the time JS, human nature is to be fickle. While it may be in vogue right now to empower women and believe every decision they make is in their own interests, progressivism is never constant. When people realise mothers are getting an abortion for the most trivial of matters such as their baby not having the right gender, eye colour or some other undesirable genetic traits, I’m confident public opinion will change in time.

@Sam Oak
“When people realise mothers are getting an abortion for the most trivial of matters …” So, Sam, you only object to abortion when it’s accessed for trivial matters? Perhaps like many of your fellow Christians, you are OK with abortion where the mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy occurred as a result of rape or incest? Which is the ultimate position of hypocrisy, especially when you label abortion as “murder” – so some murder is bad but other murder is ok?

“I’m confident public opinion will change in time” Really?
An IPSOS poll conducted last year (https://www.ipsos.com/en-au/majority-australians-report-unwavering-support-abortion-access) shows that in the past 8 years, the support for abortion in Australia has remained consistently high (76% supported abortion in 2021, compared to 74% in 2018, and 77% in 2014).
And the news is no better for you religious zealots, in the 2021 ABS census results … while only 40% the population responded “no religion” on the 2021 census (an increase of 10% on the 2016 results), 60% of baby boomers reported a religious affiliation, whereas 53.5% of millennials reported an affiliation … religious affilitation is on the decline.
Furthermore, in (arguably) the most rabid anti-abortion Christian faith, the Catholic Church, within the laity in the US 55% favor legal abortion in all or most cases, while only 43% say it should be illegal in all or most cases (https://theconversation.com/religious-beliefs-give-strength-to-the-anti-abortion-movement-but-not-all-religions-agree-182500)
So, I’m not sure from where you think that change at the ballot box is going to come.

“Which is the ultimate position of hypocrisy, especially when you label abortion as “murder” – so some murder is bad but other murder is ok?”

Just Saying, this is not really true, people often make exceptions for what otherwise be murder. It’s all about the definitions.

In the US, they have the death penalty for example and we accept that soldiers will legally “murder” other soldiers in war.

You could easily flip your argument around that people who support abortion but limit it to certain weeks gestation or “viability” are hypocrites also.

@chewy14

It is Sam Oak, who labelled abortion “murder” not me – and when I said ‘some murder is bad but other murder is ok’, I should have qualified that I was talking within the context of abortion.

Nevertheless, you raise a valid point. The legislators in 18 of the US states, which have banned, or are likely to ban, abortion are doing nothing to repeal their laws allowing what some opponents call “state sanctioned murder”, aka the death penalty.

And we never accept the “legality” of soldiers murdering soldiers (and others) in war – which is why potential ADF war crimes by are always investigated in Australia.

As for the question of gestation or viability, I have never said that I am pro abortion (for the simple reason it has no impact on me whatsoever). However, what I am is pro-choice, which means I support the right of each woman to decide according to her own circumstances.

Just Saying,

What I’m getting at is that the area is very subjective and definitions are important.

To clarify with regards to soldiers, I am specifically talking about “legal” killing of enemy combatants. In any other sphere it would be murder.

You are right that if someone says that ALL abortions are murder then it would be hypocritical to provide exemptions.

In the same way that if someone says that ALL abortions are OK, then it would be hypocritical to provide limits on when women could access them such as gestational limits.

But typically people use their general support or opposition in pretty definitive terms whereas in reality their positions are often more nuanced in the grey areas.

Interestingly, I was reading just this morning a couple of American surveys on social attitudes particularly towards women. It seems that, within a few percentage points, men and women agree on the subject of abortion (yes, no, ease of access, etc).

Ddifferences between “pro” and “anti” groups are clarified when you ask related questions, for example whether men make better political leaders, whether equal representation is good for the country, are women “too easily offended”, whether birth control access affects women’s equality, and other related discrimination issues. It seems anti-abortion people tend strongly (on average) to be against anything actually related to equality or to quality of life.
More bluntly, anti-abortion groups show much stronger misogynistic responses across a range of measures, suggesting it is not a moral position in favour of a foetus but a well-established discriminatory one against women.

That is interesting, phydeaux. I also heard a (perhaps cynical) commentary on the report that Amazon had joined a growing number of US employers that had stated they would fund travel out of state for their employees to get around their local state prohibition. The commentator opined that “it might financially benefits these companies for their workers not to have children”.

That is a baseless unfounded left wing load of crap phydux. Survey data on that stuff is complete trash, and anyone can concoct results from a survey to try and prove their point.

Phydeaux,
Do you have a link for those surveys?

Not saying that I agree with Sam but I’ve too often seen question design and results interpretation of surveys be woeful in these types of areas.

For example, most of the issues you’ve mentioned above are not necessarily by themselves areas showing support for discrimination or misogynistic attitudes.

Chewy, sure. After picking up on some comments in an article I was reading I searched and found both original research and this summary article which covers the main items I offered.
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-real-dividing-line-on-abortion/
Main sources there are Pew and PerryUndem.

I disagree that beliefs on those items might be considered neutral in effect. Over all, where is the balance if those are consistently held? What would you think of those attitudes as a set? I consider them actually or effectively discriminatory.

JustSaying, that last you mention is a valid problem, a new pressure source, just like a man pressuring a woman to abort so he does not have current or future responsibility or exposure. It can probably be wrapped into Amazon’s general approach to rights of its workers.
This says nothing against the right of women themselves to decide against bearing children for personal or career reasons. Procreation is not an obligation.

OMG, Sam Oak – can you get anymore hypocritical? You have just quoted a report above on the results of a survey of why women have an abortion.

JustSaying, Riotact has some rules about what we might say or how to say it, so may I discreetly comment regarding any post which might (quite by chance) be related to your OMG, I managed not to spill my wine while laughing.

Phydeaux,
Thanks for the info.

I would agree that as an overall set they would show certain tendencies as you’ve described but I’m also cautious of making more broad blanket statements around the linkages and motivations for people answering that way.

Because it’s often very subjectively dependent on what you define “equality” as looking like along with an objective viewing of what an accurate answer “should” be to the question if we take real world evidence on board.

Just taking a couple of the points you raised above as examples there are a number of studies showing that women are typically more easily offended than men. Is it wrong to recognise that?

And whether equal representation in positions of power is a good thing naturally assumes that men and women are equally interested in obtaining power when once again studies show that isn’t the case.

Anyway, probably a bit off topic for what this article is about.

Chewy, I was careful to use terms like “on average”, “suggest” and “tend” so rest any fears that I might assume blanket coverage or uniform motivations.

Given equality of capability, equality of representation seems a natural objective. Perhaps studies should rather be looking at causes, and without assuming a present system. You may recall the “glass ceiling” debates when they first arose. A straightforward expression of the problem is that you can claim you do not discriminate when systemic behaviours do it for you.

Chewy, I am careful to use terms like “on average”, “suggest” and “tend” so rest any fears that I might assume blanket coverage or uniform motivations.

The “easily offended” term is invariably pejorative rather than contextual with similar ratios of apology to offence for men and women. Given equality of capability, equality of representation seems a natural objective. Perhaps studies should rather be looking at causes for each, without taking as a good the present social organisation or system. A straightforward expression of the problem (whether glass ceiling or other discrimination) is that you can claim you do not discriminate when systemic social behaviours do it for you. Pressure affects expressed behaviours.

Phydux I put up a link to a study published on a government website that showed research on the main reasons for abortion. This is completely relevant to the debate. You on the other hand introduced “survey” data published by a left wing website that lost all credibility after predicting Hilary Clinton would win the presidential election in a feeble attempt to slander everyone that might have anti-abortion views as misogynistic which adds no value to the moralistic argument on abortion.

JS if you can’t understand the difference and think I’m being hypocritical then it just goes to show how stupid people with left wing views are!

Actually, Sam Oak, it’s not only people of the left who are pro choice. Furthermore, pro choice people may or may not be in favour of abortion – what they are in favour of is giving women the ability to make their own decision.

Even some Christian churches believe abortion is allowable in certain circumstances “”the physical or mental health of the mother is threatened seriously, or where there is substantial reason to believe that the child would be born badly deformed in mind or body, or where the pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest” is reaffirmed. Termination of pregnancy for these reasons is permissible.”

So your survey is irrelevant – as surely the reason for abortion doesn’t matter, it’s wrong on all counts, isn’t it?

The problem with religious zealots forcing their dogma re abortion on to others, is that they can’t even agree amongst themselves what that dogma actually is.

Reposting as I put my referencs in which RiotACT system didn’t like.

Actually, Sam Oak, it’s not only people of the left who are pro choice. Furthermore, pro choice people may or may not be in favour of abortion – what they are in favour of is giving women the ability to make their own decision.

Even some Christian churches believe abortion is allowable in certain circumstances “”the physical or mental health of the mother is threatened seriously, or where there is substantial reason to believe that the child would be born badly deformed in mind or body, or where the pregnancy has resulted from rape or incest” is reaffirmed. Termination of pregnancy for these reasons is permissible.” … https://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/acts/acts_resolution.pl?resolution=1976-D095

So your survey is irrelevant – as surely the reason for abortion doesn’t matter, it’s “murder” on all counts, isn’t it?

The problem with religious zealots forcing their dogma re abortion on to others, is that they can’t even agree amongst themselves what that dogma actually is … https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/21/where-major-religious-groups-stand-on-abortion/

Cheers, phydeaux

S Oak, your post of 3.22 pm on 02 July completely misses all points.

I did not even respond to your link, although now you draw it to my attention I see that it says there are usually multiple reasons cogently related to future child support, not “choosing your hair colour or the clothes you wear” as you put it (much as someone with zero actual regard for women might do). As JustSaying just said, the relevance exists solely for you, as an offence against your prior assumptions.

I referred to Pew Research and PerryUndem, happily brought together in an article by fivethirtyeight although I had read research material prior. Whether fivethirtyeight were good election prognisticators in 2016 is magnificently irrelevant to the data. But since you like it, how did they do in 2020? Happy now?

Your demand is that women satisfy you rather than have choice.

Control.

The classic pro-abortionist argument is to twist the debate and frame it as all about preserving the rights of women and painting those on the other side as being misogynistic and attempting to control women. However it’s got nothing to do with that. It’s a moral debate about whether an unborn child has the right to life or not. If women wanted to kill unborn animal foetuses I would not care one bit and be supportive of their choice but a human foetus is another matter.

S. Oak
That a strong anti-abortion position effectively controls women is a fact, not a debating point. You may argue about what motivates it.

The rest of your case leans on one of the classical incoherencies in religious belief. I am not going to debate belief here.

Oh right, so your biggest fear as a women is losing your right to kill a child?

Sam Oak, I’m assuming your stance is based on your Christian beliefs.

I always thought that one of the fundamental tenets of Christianity was compassion.

So you seem to be a religious hypocrite, as you only have compassion, on a number of subjects, for those who subscribe to your beliefs.

JS what has this got to do with compassion? I’m making a statement about morality just like saying murder is wrong and detrimental to society. It’s got nothing to do about forgiving or showing compassion to murderers themselves.

If a woman breaks the law by seeking an illegal abortion I’d feel sorry for her and be prepared to offer condolences and show compassion. But that should come after establishing that abortion is a crime in the first place. Similarly, I’d show compassion to the victims of rape but the way to approach the issue is harsher penalties for rapists and not to allow the consequences to be taken lightly by making abortions legal and easily accessible like purging yourself of tapeworms. These are human beings created in god’s image we are talking about.

It has everything to do with compassion, Sam Oak.

You are treating this as YOUR black and white moral issue, without any thought, consideration or understanding of the circumstances or psycholgical well-being of the woman who has to make this decision.

You will never be faced with the decision, but you choose to impose your beliefs on others. Quite simply – murder is illegal, accessing abortion health services is not.

Hopefully, in another life, you’ll come back as a woman. then we’ll see where your ‘morals’ lie.

JS I’m not imposing my beliefs on anyone. As a member of society I have a right to express the morals I believe in. Pedophilia is an abhorrent monstrous crime. That’s quite a clear cut, black and white fact. We do not consider the psychological wellbeing of the pedophile in arriving at the conclusion it is an evil against society. That is because the victims have no rights and say in the matter. Similarly, the unborn child that is aborted is literally treated as having no rights and is not considered a real person. This is why abortion should be illegal. It’s not just about the woman but two lives we are talking about.

“I’m not imposing my beliefs on anyone.”

Yeah right, Sam Oak:

“If a father kills a child it is murder, if a mother does it is abortion? Good riddance the barbaric practice should be made illegal and a severe prison sentence handed down to anyone that does it.” (Sam Oak, 2022/06/29 at 11:58 pm – “Roe V Wade was overturned: but is safe access to abortion as easy as you think here?”)

Fortunately, Australia is a secular democracy, so the Christian right does not get to dictate how individuals, outside of their sphere of control, will live their lives.

S Oak wrote: “If a woman breaks the law by seeking an illegal abortion…”
In Australia, women can and do seek legal, not illegal, abortions. Sorry to break the news. It is how society works.

“…I’d feel sorry for her and be prepared to offer condolences”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwZBm_T7Fdc

I note you said “be prepared to” and not “would”, so even in your weasel words you weasel.

Sam just wondering why your obsessed with interfering in other people’s personal matters.
I have very specific views about abortion, raising children and end of life but I would never try & stick my beak in other people’s private matters so I wonder why you seem so determined to do so.

Franky it is not private matters. If a baby is murdered and no one is there to defend him/her because the parents don’t want it then it is society’s business. What’s the difference between a baby killed after birth and one still in the womb a few days earlier? Only difference is one is currently legal and the other illegal. Where is the moral line?

@Sam Oak

That’s a pretty important difference = “… one is legal and the other is illegal”. And according to you, the “moral line” is wherever you choose to draw it.

Whether you like it or not, Australia is a secular democracy, which means you are free to follow your religion, but our democracy not combine politics with religion; any decision made is not under the influence of religion.

I respect your right to be against abortion, but I don’t respect your (perceived) right to force that opposition on others.

It’s funny because the left are the first to be all up in arms about experimenting on animal foetuses. But at the same time they think a human foetus is not a real person and has no rights until it is born all for the sententious belief they are empowering women.

@Sam Oak
You keep on referring to “the left” as if they are the only Australians on the political spectrum who are pro-choice. As I have shown you elsewhere, there are a substantial number of Christians who are also pro-choice. Perhaps it’s only your flavour of Christianity that counts?

Not to be “left” of Sam Oak would be a most unfortunate affair.

Can one be anything but left of Sam Oak, phydeaux?

I would only allow atheists to be elected to Parliament and only allow atheists to migrate to Australia. That should sort out a few problems.

So franky22, rather than having the likes of Seselja impose his religous beliefs on us all, you would have your religious (or lack thereof) beliefs imposed on us all.

“While it might seem like an American court ruling has very little to do with our rights here in Australia, the decision is actually a sobering insight into how easily progress can be wound back at the will of lawmakers, politicians and others in positions of power.”

So you mean the people that were voted in to office by the electorate have the power to enact laws that the electorate support?

I’m truly shocked. It’s almost like they could legislate on important issues.

And whilst you (and i) might support abortion (for different reasons), can we please at least acknowledge this is an area of significant moral ambiguity where your definition of “progress” might be the antithesis of another person’s?

This is not an issue of right versus wrong, no one can definitively claim an objective truth of where human life begins and where human rights should be afforded to a foetus/human child. It is a battle of competing rights, a subjective assessment of what we think is important.

True, chewy, and referring again to the passage you quoted, it emphasises the importance of maintaining the integrity, checks, and trust within our democracy to maximise the chance that decisions best represent the broad public interest rather than sectional interests.

I agree with the sentiment of your and chewy14’s comment, phydeaux, i.e. that the elected legislators i are empowered by the people and hopefully the legisaltors represent the broad public interest.

Given the implications of the legislation, perhaps this is one instance where the represented majority will is irrelevant.

The decision to terminate a pregnancy is very much an individual one. chewy14 mentions the ‘battle for competing rights’ which is correct – for opponents of abortion say they are speaking for the unborn child.

As an older married male, I will never be, and have never been, involved in the making such a decision – so, I’m not sure if I support abortion or not. However, I am definitely pro-choice, i.e. allowing each woman to make their own decision.

For mine, this (the potential repealing of laws enabling access to abortion) is an example, where the ‘decisions that best represent the broad public interest’ may not represent the interests of the person most affected by the decision.

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