Interesting moves in the US with legislation to ban pregnancy termination after a diagnosis of Down Syndrome. There is a huge network of families in Australia with children who have Down Syndrome who advocate for more information, more positive stories, less negative language and far less coercion in the setting of a diagnosis of DS. Many relate stories of being asked repeatedly if they would consider termination, even after adamantly refusing. Even in this setting, there can be contention about whether women should have the choice to terminate.
It is interesting that this legislation targets only DS.
I wonder how very few people know that in Australia we allow pregnancy termination for far less 'serious' reasons, whether physical or social. Pregnancies are terminated regularly for easily correctable conditions like cleft palates and club feet. Around half of all post 20-week terminations for on healthy babies for psychosocial reasons.
At a time when many US States are beginning to pay attention to the substantial evidence of potential harm from abortion and the very coercive factors leading to women's 'choices', Australia continues running in the opposite direction. Any mention of abortion harm, whether from educators, researchers, health professionals, or women themselves, is quickly dismissed and the person marginalised.
The way in which the discourse favours a strongly abortion advocating position creates an information void for everyone. Community attitude surveys cannot be relied on when the community is subject to only one side of the issue. Women can't access all of the information they need when such critical information, even when wholly accurate, comes with a side of 'these people hate you and want to manipulate you'.
Legislator are asked to enact laws that further distance women from any accurate information or necessary supports. Doctors are forced to neglect their duty of care by not talking to women about potential harm, even when they know their own patient may have risk factors. Women are attending abortion clinics believing they will get some information about options, and feel supported and then leaving in a panic having felt coerced into abortions.
While their voices are silenced and the evidence rarely seeing the light of day, I wonder how many years it will before we have huge public apologies for this horror we inflict on vulnerable women. A horrow packaged up as a privilege, a right, almost a rite of passage, and certainly something they should be grateful for.
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