The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
The Forum - On Line Opinion's article discussion area


RSS 2.0

Main Articles General

Sign In      Register

The Forum > Article Comments > What choice does 'pro-choice' really support > Comments

What choice does 'pro-choice' really support : Comments

By Rachael Patterson, published 29/11/2004

Rachael Patterson argues that there are other alternatives to abortion.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All
What an intelligent piece of commentary! I am sick and tired of the abortion debate focusing on the rights of the mother versus the rights of the foetus. Let's concentrate our energies on giving pregnant women more palatable choices than simply abort, adopt or struggle.
Posted by Hel, Monday, 29 November 2004 2:25:46 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
This is a positive contribution to the discussion, and I'm glad it was published in a newspaper, as well as online. It seems the problem lies with intelligent discussion not being put forward in public spaces. The soundbite only allows for vapid, divisive snatches of argument, not for anything thoughtful or helpful to pregnant women and their families. I would suggest, though, that 'pro-choice' women's organisations have been providing help to pregnant women for a long time, and they have been doing so in a well-rounded way, not just promoting abortion. And in cases of failed contraception, rape and illness, for example, the woman may just not be prepared to go through with a pregnancy and give birth. I'm not sure how anyone can force a woman in such a situation to have the child. This does not mean, of course, that all the options are not discussed with her. What it does mean is that, as with all pregnancies, it is ultimately the woman who has the final say. I don't see how anyone else can impose their own personal views upon her. Help, yes, information, yes, coercion, no.
Posted by SueB, Monday, 29 November 2004 6:31:24 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
This article contains spurious, unsubstantiated contentions that demonstrate the author’s startling ignorance of the issue. Four significant problems question the validity of the author’s claims and her proposed solutions to the issue of abortion.

First, the author states that “one of the principle causes of Australia’s low reproductive levels” is abortion. This is false. Both the actual and projected decline in population growth is attributable to a fall in birth rates and an increased death rate resulting from an ageing demographic profile. In both absolute and relative terms the number of abortions conducted over the last sixty years has declined – from one in three to one in four pregnancies. Recent evidence from the Health Insurance Commission demonstrates that the number of abortions in Australia has declined from over 77,000 in 1995 to 73,000 in 2003. Significantly, there has been a substantial decline in 20-24 year old mothers deciding on abortion and a marginal decline in 13-19 year old mothers.

Compared internationally, Australia’s abortion rate is only marginally above the OECD average per 1,000 births –interestingly countries experiencing more severe declines in population growth are conducting fewer abortions per 1,000 births (e.g. Germany and Norway). The author thus: (i) fails to provide supporting evidence that abortions are indeed a contributing factor to declines in population growth, (ii) does not attempt to explain how a declining abortion rate can significantly contribute to this decline, and (iii) fails to explain why countries with lower abortion rates are also experiencing declining birth rates.

Second, the author suggests that sex education at school is ineffective and “should be reformed”. The author proposes that abstinence and emotional issues should be incorporated into sex education and their absence may be “one of the reasons our sex education courses have failed so spectacularly.” This is again false. The evidence of declining abortions for the under 24 age group implies that sex education at school has been effective. There is absolutely no evidence beyond the author’s personal anecdote to support the claim that sex education at school has been ineffective and needs to be revised.

Third, the author proposes that “young mothers are still discriminated against” and that “a change in attitudes” is necessary. There is plausibility in this claim, but it is difficult to see how the author’s additional claim that “it is socially more acceptable for a young woman to abort than to carry her baby to term” – at least “it seem to be” to her – can possibly be treated with any degree of seriousness. Further, the contention that adoption should be a viable alternative to abortion demonstrates a profound ignorance by author: it is one! The problems in meeting demand for adoption are a direct result of more effective family planning and the provision of income support for sole parents – the very factors Ms. Patterson implies are necessary to prevent abortions.

Finally, Ms. Patterson proposes that there is “considerable scope for non-governmental agencies to provide support for women”. This demonstrates an unacceptable degree of ignorance. Counseling services are generally provided prior and after abortion procedures in most States. There is an extensive support network available via local GPs, Family Planning services, and women’s groups. This is not to suggest that further services should not be made available; but there are already a significant number of support services for women deciding to have an abortion, through both government and non-government agencies.

This issue is complex, and represents an emotional minefield that should be charted with empathic sensitivity toward those involved. The author’s opinion appears to reflect an inexperience and flippancy that is likely to incense rather than inform.
Posted by Fletch, Thursday, 2 December 2004 7:58:00 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Fletch's comments are interesting but appear argumentative rather than constructive. In particular the claims about a decline in abortion in Australia are incredible.

Australia generally has not been very good at recording abortions. But in South Australia the records are quite good. In 1970 the rate was 6 per 1000 women. It has risen ever since, stabilising somewhere between 17 and 17.5 per 1000 women.

In SA teenagers, the abortion rate rose above the birth rate in 1994 and has remained higher ever since.

To say that "the problems in meeting demand for adoption are a direct result of more effective family planning and the provision of income support for sole parents" is confused. It's a fact that fewer and fewer women with an unintended pregnancy choose adoption in Australia. Instead they are choosing abortion.

As for sex education, Fletch may be one of the few (apart from the various Departments of Health bureaucrats who arrange the curriculum) who think our current sex ed programs are working.

It seems Fletch is of the staunch "everything's okay" persuasion - that 100,000 (or even the conservative 70,000) abortions each year are all well and good. In fact I'd go so far as to say that Fletch appears to believe that there are is nothing anyone can do to reduce the abortion rate - it's just a fact of life. Such fatalism is unhelpful and, thankfully, unrealistic.

Apart from those comments, I thought Patterson's piece was a useful addition to the debate. Practical solutions are what Aussie women need, not denial.

Posted by ruby, Thursday, 2 December 2004 5:24:47 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
"Emphatic sensitivity?" Ha ha, that's a good one, Fletch. Yeah, your jibes at "ignorance", "profound ignorance" and "unacceptable degree of ignorance" are way too sensitive for me. Your logic is likewise too much for me:

1. 100,000 abortions doesn't make a dent to dropping reproductive levels? Each one of those abortions could have been a reproductive figure instead! Even if a portion of those 100,000 aborted fetuses had not been carried to term due to miscarriage, that's still a huge number of babies that we might have had instead.

2. You attempt to deflect the author's argument about low reproductive levels by pointing out that abortion is dropping. So what? Every abortion is still one baby less? It still affects reproductive levels!

3. The evidence for abstinence education in the UK and the US is, in fact, quite established:

The third link deplores the failure of abstinence-only, but raises the NECESSITY of including abstinence in sex education, as the author suggested in her article.

The last link says the same thing, and cites contraception AND abstinence as having caused a 17% decline in teenage pregnancy in the US form 1991-1998. This likewise supports what the author suggested.nIt is a good sign that NARAL, a pro-choice group, have had to admit from facts, that abstinence IS a relevant factor in comprehensive sex education.

4. The author's claim that abortion has become more acceptable is quite true.

says "In a well-known survey of 216 leading U.S. journalists conducted in 1981 by sociologists S. Robert Lichter and Stanley Rothman, 54 percent of the respondents thought adultery was not wrong, .. .. and 90 percent thought that abortion was an inherent right of women."

90% thought abortion was an inherent right. If that isn't social acceptability, I don't know what is. These were journalists whose opinions and stories we read and, in many cases, subscribe to.

Furthermore, the government FUNDS abortions. The law protects abortions! Our taxes pay for them! Isn't that a statement of social acceptability, or an acceptable option in society? With our sex education being focused on contraception and the inability of teenagers to wait (implying that they are beasts without sufficient self-control), how would these teenagers feel about an unwanted pregnancy? The lines between abortion and contraception is absolutely blurred, and their common premise is that pregnancy is to be avoided using the most convenient means available.

As for existing support services for pregnant teenagers, I wonder how many of them would show ultrasound images of the fetuses to the mothers? How many of them would explain to them what happens in abortion (especially late-term abortion)? How many of them specifically and rigorously offer alternatives to abortion? Yes, Fletcher cites the infrastructure as being there, but what does it do and how far does it go?

Hats off to Rachael for her timely and sane article.
Posted by Jeff, Friday, 3 December 2004 10:38:24 AM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
Patterson brings a little-heard and very important point to the abortion debate: Woman need choice in reality, not just in theory.

This is a key point because it is one that both pro-choice and pro-life supporters can rally around. Those who are passionate about a woman's right to choose should be passionate about making the choice for life more possible, so women can choose to keep their babies if they want. Likewise, those who insist that the unborn not be killed should be eager to support social policies that make it more possible and attractive for women to bring their babies to term (in addition to adoption, which is wonderful, but not the cure-all.)

Social support is the unmentioned elephant in the room when it comes to abortion debates. Many shy away from it because it smacks of financial handouts. This is understandable from a purely economic point of view, but one would think that those who claim that protection of either the woman's choice or the unborn foetus as their passion in life would also be passionately exploring this option.

Maybe further governmental programs are the only way to make this support available and well-known, or maybe the private organizations already in existence need more support and expansion. Either way, one would think I'd have heard about this option much more, considering the enormity of the abortion debate.

Props to Patterson for reminding us of this very practical point.
Posted by Grinols, Friday, 3 December 2004 1:40:27 PM
Find out more about this user Recommend this comment for deletion Return to top of page Return to Forum Main Page Copy comment URL to clipboard
  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

About Us :: Search :: Discuss :: Feedback :: Legals :: Privacy