Missed the State Government’s abortion extension survey?
Don’t worry about it! It was a flawed document anyway. And there’s a better way!
Many of our readers and members are aware that the Western Australian State Government is proposing to ‘relax’ the current abortion laws. The proposal comes via Amber Jade Sanderson and is supported by many Labor MPs, including the current Minister for Family Simone McGurk. Both women are staunchly pro-choice, and both are Emilys Listers.
This ‘relaxation’ principally involves abortion being available without the need for application to a medical ‘panel’ for pregnancies up to twenty-four weeks rather than the current twenty weeks, although there are other aspects to the proposed legislation. The government says our laws are old and need ‘updating’ so they are modelling the update on the law introduced by Dan Andrews government in Victoria. Perhaps we should be grateful they didn’t use the NSW model which is even more horrible. Perhaps they still will in time.
Interestingly, the current twenty week legislation was adopted in part because the medical world acknowledged that a child is ‘viable’ (able to breathe and survive on its own) outside its mother’s body at twenty two weeks or thereabouts, and this made the law more palatable for MPs who were hesitating at the time. In an ironic twist, if a child survives an abortion in WA today it is illegal to give it any form of aid. Rather it is left to die, regardless of how many weeks of gestation have passed.
The proposal comes now despite the fact that Premier Mark McGowan had previously said he had ‘no appetite’ for changing the abortion law in this term of government. Some have suggested the timing of the proposal is designed to avert attention from the hopeless handling of the current hospital crisis.
Be that as it may, the government decided to support its plan with a four-week public comment period revolving around a survey. This survey closed on 17th December 2022.
The selection of the survey period itself was shrewd. It coincided with Christmas which is always a busy time for everyone. It has been suggested that this will result in low numbers of respondents, allowing the Government to say ‘this isn’t really an issue for Western Australians anyway’. Hmm.
Survey respondents were instructed that they could not use the document to voice their opposition to abortion itself. Rather they could only oppose or support extending abortion availability from the current 20 weeks (without needing to go to a medical panel) to 24 weeks. Unfortunately for pro-life people, the wording of the survey was also shrewd. You only really had two options: you could support the extension, or choose the option that the law stays the same as it currently is (although there was the chance to add comments too). And it was not possible to advance in the survey unless you choose one or the other option in any given question. So what does that mean in reality? It means that pro-lifers filling out the survey would be inadvertently supporting the current law by being against the extension!
The nineteen-question survey also included a demographic section asking (of course!) respondents’ gender amongst other things. The demographic section was optional although most survey respondents do answer demographic questions.
Government interpretation of survey results
The question has to be asked: Why would the government include a demographic section? The likelihood is that they would be looking to link the answers to different questions together.
Imagine, for example, if 80% of respondents were against the extension of abortion availability to 24 weeks but 50% of respondents were male. The government could then say that it is a women’s medical issue and only publicise positive results coming from female respondents! All things considered then, the Right to Life Association of WA respectfully suggests that it would have been better for pro-lifers not to participate in the survey.
So, what now?
So, is there something else we can do?
Of course there is!
WA Labor Parliamentarians (and the vast majority of Parliamentarians in both houses of our parliament are currently Labor) are being given a conscience vote on the proposed legislation.
Now, admittedly many are gutless individuals who will vote for the legislation simply because they are more interested in their careers than our children, but others will actually think about it and may be able to be swayed to the pro-life perspective. It is hard to say which politicians are thinkers and which are career oriented, so we need to bombard all our politicians with emails and letters now.
And you have time. The legislation probably won’t pass before April or May. So you have time.
Here are some hints to use when emailing or letter writing (or ringing for that matter):
Hints on writing
1. Write in your own words
2. Write differently each time (don’t just rehash your first letter over and over)
3. Write principally to your own representatives, but you can write separately to cabinet ministers
4. You can also try to submit your thoughts to email@example.com which is the email used for the original survey. It may or may not continue to be monitored.
5. Make sure you introduce yourself and talk about why you are interested in the proposed legislation. You could state that you are interested because you are motivated by Christ, it may be because you were affected by abortion yourself, you have a friend who was, you are aware of the devastating effects of abortion on mothers, families and marriages, etc.
6. Familiarise yourself with the Discussion Paper. It can be accessed here or you can get a copy from the Right to Life Association of WA office. We can email or post it to you.
7. Because you are going to write multiple times(!) you may wish to choose different issues from the proposed laws each time. For example, you may wish to highlight your objection to changes to conscientious objection by medical practitioners. The proposed changes will make it very difficult for doctors and nurses to act in a pro-life manner.
You may also wish to highlight your objection to the removal of mandatory counselling before an abortion, or your concerns as to how abortion is and will be treated in the criminal code, or you could even object to the language used in the discussion paper. In that document abortion is described as a medical procedure and the word ‘reform’ is used and the ‘desirability’ of abortion availability is discussed.
You can also raise issues that are not raised in the discussion paper. For example, you may wish to state your opposition to abortion being used for gender selection. You may also want to let your parliamentarians know that at the very least, late term children who are going to be killed by abortion should be anaesthetised so they don’t suffer pain. You could also discuss the issue of babies born alive after an abortion being given help to live, or the trauma a woman goes through after an abortion – for the rest of her life. 8. You can find your members of parliament here (if you are reading this online or in an email). You have six Legislative Councillors and one lower house member.
Right to Life Association of WA