This article is yet another example of the media allowing ideological misinformation to drive the abortion debate. With references to the law needing to come into line with community expectations and the law stopping doctors performing abortions, the article is regurgitating the same misleading abortion propaganda that was delivered in Victoria and in Queensland.
The general community have little understanding of the full context of abortion and will often err on the side of ‘I’m pro-choice’ if asked in a survey. But when provided with the context within which women might present for abortion, or at what gestation, actual support for abortion drops dramatically.
In a study undertaken by practitioners of abortion a more informed set of community values becomes apparent when people are presented with actual circumstances that women may present for abortion. These researchers asked a variety of questions addressing very specific circumstances of women. This study indicates that only 61% of Australians agree that abortion should be legal, without condition in the first trimester, with a further 26% believing restrictions should be in place according to circumstances. By the third trimester the number of people believing abortion should be available without restriction drops to a low 6% with a further 42% agreeing about availability dependent on circumstances. The percentage of people believing abortion should be illegal regardless of circumstances increase with each trimester, 12%, 28% and 48%.
On an issue that people can feel very strongly about, it is vitally important that perceptions of people not be misrepresented particularly when the purpose is to drive legislation that is ‘in line with community standards’.
We also know from the change in abortion legislation in Victoria in 2008, that such change does not encourage more doctors to perform abortions, because doctors aren’t stupid. They know that if they want to do abortions, the law as it stands allows them to do so, otherwise there wouldn’t be thousands of abortions for social reasons undertaken every year. Many doctors, and most of the general public are not even aware that there are legalities surrounding abortion, and even the most cursory perusal of social media can tell you that.