The Weaker the Argument, the More Coercive the Laws: A Turning of the Tide?

Rev. Dr Peter Barnes

Prophecy is a hazardous business for the uninspired, but recent events in NSW might indicate a change for the better with respect to abortion laws in Australia. Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have passed some of the world’s worst abortion laws, and Queensland came very close to following suit.

In NSW the Greens attempted to decriminalise abortion completely; abortion would be allowed right up to birth. Furthermore, it was to constitute ‘unsatisfactory professional conduct’ for a medical practitioner with conscientious objections to abortion to fail to refer any woman to someone without such conscientious objections. Finally, there would be ‘safe access zones’ of 150 metres around abortion mills to ensure the ‘safety, well-being, privacy and dignity’ of those making use of their services. No placards of pictures of unborn babies allowed, and no prayers allowed!

More than 120 academic lawyers signed an open letter of support for the bill, and pronounced that ‘Abortion is a health and welfare matter, not a criminal issue.’ The medical director of Marie Stopes Australia, Dr Philip Goldstone, agreed, and spoke of the need for ‘abortion care’. The mastermind behind the bill, Dr MehreenFaruqi, predictably blamed the opposition on the ubiquitous influence of the American right. The major newspapers were reluctant to provide details about the bill, and when it was defeated, reported simply and misleadingly that ‘Abortion will remain a crime in NSW after MPs voted down a Greens bill aimed at overturning the 100-year-old law.’

The opposition did indeed carry out an effective and expanding social media campaign in the final two weeks leading up to the vote in the Legislative Council on 11 May. Some 56,559 signatures were collected in a relatively short time to express concern at the bill’s attacks on life, conscience and freedom.The more people knew about the bill, the more alarm there was concerning its intentions.
The day before the vote in the NSW Upper House, the New York Times – not normally a bastion of the American right – published an article by Jennifer Bartlett, a woman with cerebral palsy. With no discernible Christian convictions, she tried to argue that women have the right to choose abortion but that aborting a child with a disability is somehow wrong. She confessed: ‘This puts me in a strange position.’ Indeed it does!

Dr Faruqi’s proposal would have allowed abortion for any reason right up to birth. As Mrs Bartlett’s article implies, there is something intuitive in all of us that this would be ‘strange’, indeed more than strange, outright wrong. There are babies in Victoria who are viable outside the womb but are put to death inside it. Aborted babies who are born alive are routinely allowed to die. Most people have qualms with that, but the pro-abortion juggernaut only makes them uneasy rather than outraged.
The right and obligation to a clear conscience is fundamental in Scripture (e.g. Acts 24:16; Rom.2:15) and to ride roughshod over it is a grievous thing (1 Cor.8:7). If we lose our moral sensitivity, we can find our consciences are seared or defiled (1 Tim.4:2; Tit.1:15). Coercion in this matter indicates not strength but a deep uneasiness of soul.

A ‘safe access zone’ with no prayer and no intrusion of unwelcome truth is also an indication that bad practice needs to be bolstered by bad law.

The result of all this is criminal: there are Working with Children Checks to keep children safe yet children in the womb have little protection; there are supposed anti-bullying programmes in schools yet doctors with consciences over abortion are bullied and intimidated; there is much solemn talk about being a free and democratic society when freedoms are being rapidly taken away. There is much to grieve.

Is the tide turning? Who knows? But the whisper that something is terribly wrong with killing unborn children is sounding louder and more distinct. And pro-abortionists are worried.