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Abbott stirs Christians on abortion complacency

Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott said that he's often challenged on moral grounds over his Government's asylum seeker detention policy, but had never been asked by an Australian Christian why he can "preside over a Medicare system which funds 75,000 abortions a year".

Delivering a speech on the challenges for Christian politicians at the University of Adelaide, Mr Abbott, a Catholic, declared that society should put as much effort into preventing teenage promiscuity as it does into stopping young people smoking or driving too fast, so that there will be fewer abortions and "fewer traumatised young women".

He said that society has to create a culture where people understand "that actions have consequences" and "take their responsibilities seriously".

"Why isn't the fact that 100,000 women choose to end their pregnancies regarded as a national tragedy approaching the scale (say) of Aboriginal life expectancy being 20 years less than that of the general community?" he said at Adelaide University yesterday.

"Even those who think that abortion is a woman's right should be troubled by the fact that 100,000 Australian women choose to destroy their unborn babies every year."

Mr Abbott, however, stressed he was not announcing a policy change. He defended his fellow Christians and the Catholic Church from Mark Latham, who said during the stem cell debate that "it was a bit rich for the Catholic Church to be lecturing the parliament on morality".

He said Mr Latham had also attacked a group of conservative politicians who belong to the Lyons Forum for being "fundamentalists with a Bible in the top drawer and a Hustler magazine and a box of tissues in their bottom drawer".

"What Mr Latham has missed, in his eagerness to prove guilt by association against his opponents, is the part Christianity has played in establishing the civil discourse he now says is necessary," he said.

Security ejected two hecklers during the speech. Mr Abbott's comments prompted chants of: "Get your morals off our bodies".

Abbott targets 'tragedy' of abortion (The Australian 17/3/04)
Boos as Abbott tells students abortion rate a national tragedy (Sydney Morning Herald/AAP 17/3/04)

Tony Abbott: Rate of abortion highlights our moral failings (The Australian 17/3/04)
Tony Abbott - Member for Warringah
Tony Abbott MHR
Flack for Abbott after recruiting Church Resources boss (CathNews 3/3/04)
Abbott says new stem cells book goes beyond religion (CathNews 2/3/04)

17 Mar 2004