Let’s “end the silence” around the ethics of abortion.

There seems to be endemic schizophrenia among radical abortion advocates. In a recent Australian article on LifeChoice Syd and UNSW, WRO Annabel Osborn states how ‘the Student Representative Council has enough signatures to call a general meeting and discuss motions to shut down the society or create a pro-choice group to oppose it.’

So which is it going to be Annabel? Censor the club, or create some genuine intellectual opposition?

And now Reproductive Choice Australia, an abortion advocacy group based in Melbourne, is launching a campaign this month asking Australians to speak out against people who oppose abortions”, imitating prominent campaigns against domestic violence.

“Abortion continues to be the medical procedure that dare not speak its name” writes Leslie Cannold, the president of the organisation. Yet the aim of Reproductive Choice Australia is anything but cogent.

To celebrate the launch of the petition and the nearly 100,000 abortions which take place in this country every year, RCA is organising a hip, young jazzy flash mob. The petition will presumably be worded around its aforementioned aim to create discussion around abortion while shutting down any ethical opposition.

And, like USyd’s Annabel Osborn, therein lies the schizophrenia. On one hand these ideologues want to create a stir and talk about abortion; on the other, they just want everyone to agree with them unquestionably.

Sorry Leslie, but that’s not how adult conversation works.

In an important sense, I support the aim of this campaign to create discussion around the issue of abortion in Australian society. After all, that’s why I’m a member of LifeChoice. All sides of the debate agree that sweeping this issue under the carpet doesn’t help anyone. We need to create dialogue, and a platform for all perspectives to be heard, respectfully and sensitively.

Yet although this campaign raises the spectre of abortion, it seems disturbingly totalitarian in its methods. RCA’s mantra to ‘end the silence’ on abortion is undercut by a rather sinister intent to shut down any ethical opposition. Thus the pro-life view becomes misogyny and woman-shaming, and the equivalent of supporting domestic abuse.

Ironically of course, to achieve this, RCA wants to shame and stigmatise people into submitting to its radical abortion ideology.

Abortion is an issue which intertwines fundamental questions of human society and existence. Undeniably it involves two entities: the mother and the unborn entity in her womb. I understand the pro-choice belief that a woman’s rights trump her child’s, or that personhood is only conferred at some point towards/at/after birth. Nonetheless, it is still true that termination affects a human entity.

This fact leads to some critical questions. When does ‘life’ begin? What constitutes human rights? What does it mean to be human and a person? How are we to understand human dignity? The answers to these questions define our worldview, our community, and the trajectory of our species. These questions are important because notions of human dignity are not abstract, but flow from a human, lived reality. It’s about a love for humanity.

The ethics of abortion intersect with these questions. It’s certainly not just another medical procedure, but a unique issue which cuts to the very core of our values and vision of society. Euthanasia is in a similar vein, and how we approach these important bioethical issues has dramatic and far-reaching implications.

Accordingly, seeking to silence dissent on the abortion issue is ludicrous and emphatically dangerous.

Abortion might likely always be a facet in human societies, but it seems utterly preposterous to reduce it to a mere medical procedure indistinct from having a wart burnt off or getting a tetanus shot.

So I agree with Leslie Cannold. Let’s talk about abortion in Australia. Let’s talk about why our country’s most common medical procedure is also the least conversant.  Let’s talk about one of the highest abortion rates in the Western world, despite the nation’s advanced education, resources, and health care.

And let’s do it without the shaming and the witch-hunts.

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  • Michelle

    Thanks Patrick for this excellent post. My immediate reaction when I saw the reproductive choice australia campaign was amazement at them running a campaign which attempts to position disagreeing with their world view as similar to domestic violence against another individual.

    • Georgia Florance

      I agree, Michelle. Domestic violence – violence in the family? Killing is violent … killing a family member is therefore domestic violence … hm, let’s see who is aligned with ‘domestic violence’ here … 🙂

  • Georgia Florance

    Thanks for this article. Oh boy, I hope they create a club to oppose! Let the sparks fly … I think we might need to do some peaceful flash mobs of our own.