Over the weekend, protestors called for “free, safe, legal, on demand” abortions in Australia “in solidarity with US abortion rights protestors”.
But ‘free abortions’ will do nothing to address the social inequities that drive women to seek abortion in the first place (lack of financial resources, male-oriented workplaces, domestic violence...). According to the “pro-abortion rights” Guttmacher Institute in the US:
“The reasons most frequently cited [for abortion] were that having a child would interfere with a woman's education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%); that she could not afford a baby now (73%); and that she did not want to be a single mother or was having relationship problems (48%).”
“[Q]ualitative data from in-depth interviews portrayed women who had had an abortion as typically feeling that they had no other choice, given their limited resources and existing responsibilities to others.”
Intimate partner violence is another significant factor underpinning women’s requests for abortion with up to 1 in 5 women seeking an abortion for this reason. This may involve them being pressured into having an abortion by their partner or others, or undergoing an abortion to escape an abusive relationship.
Greater access to abortion will only make it even easier for governments, employers and men to absolve themselves of the responsibility to properly support women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and to avoid properly addressing any of these issues. Women’s Forum CEO Rachael Wong spoke to SBS News about how women need more support, not more abortion:
“Rachael Wong, chief executive of Women's Forum Australia, said abortion should not be used as a 'solution' to the inequalities women face.
"Often women seek abortion because they don’t feel they have any other choice," she told SBS News.
"It's actually society's failure to address many of the things that women are struggling with, whether that be poverty or domestic violence, or a lack of flexible study or workplace arrangements."
Ms Wong said it was important to consider the welfare of both the mother and the unborn child.
"We're not campaigning to change laws, it's more about advocating for that support to be there for women so they don’t feel they have to have an abortion," she said.”
As well as being interviewed on SBS, Rachael was also interviewed on ABC’s new show ‘The Context’ for their Roe v Wade episode and by The Epoch Times. She emphasised the need to tackle the societal issues that drive women to seek abortion, and for those on all sides of the issue to unite to better support women facing unplanned pregnancies, so that they never feel as if abortion is their only choice.
Finally, the call for ‘on demand abortions’ by protestors is a far cry from the idea that, until relatively recently, abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare’. This approach is entirely at odds with current medical knowledge of foetal development and viability, advances in neonatal care, and the way we treat unborn children in any context other than abortion.
The is a deep logical disconnect in our culture, when there are those marching in the streets calling for ‘on demand abortions’, while we simultaneously throw baby showers, wonder at 4D ultrasounds, undertake life-saving surgeries on babies in utero, impose criminal penalties for killing an unborn child, and mourn children lost through miscarriage or stillbirth (and have this recognised through dedicated bereavement leave).
So why the shift from the notion that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare’ to abortion should be ‘free, safe, legal and on demand’? It is difficult to reconcile when our understanding of the humanity of the unborn child has only advanced, and it is becoming more and more apparent that abortion is society’s failure of women.
Women’s Forum Australia is an independent think tank that undertakes research, education and public policy advocacy on issues affecting women and girls, with a particular focus on addressing behaviours and practices that are harmful and abusive to them. We are a non-partisan, non-religious, tax-deductible charity. We do not receive any government funding and rely solely on donations to make an impact. Support our work today.
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