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Catholic women "more likely" to have abortion

Sydney's Catholic women are far more likely than women of other religions to have an abortion, according to figures published in today's Sydney Morning Herald.

The paper says the statistics were provided by Sydney's main abortion provider, Australian Birth Control Services.

Almost half of the clinic's 6000 patients last year identified their religion and of this group almost 40% said they were Catholic. A further 23% identified themselves as "Christian", while fewer than 5% said they were Protestant. Seven% were Muslim and 5% were Buddhist.

An analysis of women who have had more than one abortion at the clinic since it opened in the late 1980s found that Catholics account for almost 45% of those who identified their religion.

Clinic medical director Dr Geoffrey Brodie speculated that the figure may be even higher because Catholics may be more reluctant than other patients to divulge their religion.

But ethicist and director of the Melbourne-based John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Dr Warwick Neville said he would not have expected the number of Catholic women to be so high.

"The church's consistent teaching is that abortion in any circumstance is gravely wrong. [But] the church can never impose its teaching and nor does it seek to police it," he says.

"Where and how people are able to take [the church's teaching] on board and apply it to their lives, the church has no control over.

"But someone who says, 'look, I'm just going to go for an abortion', no one in the church either has any control over that or any understanding as to why they would do that."

A Catholic conundrum (Sydney Morning Herald 6/8/04 - requires payment)

Economics as reason for abortion (Sydney Morning Herald 6/8/04)
Australian Birth Control Services
Abortion is science's grim story (Sydney Morning Herald 5/8/04)
Abortions cloaked in secrecy (The West Australian 4/8/04)
Public shift on abortion: Abbott (The Australian 2/8/04)
An abortion deception (The Age 3/8/04)
Abortion clinic fears pre-poll political assault (Sydney Morning Herald 6/8/04)
Why is my church so silent on abortion? (The Age 5/8/04)
Compass: My Foetus (The Age 5/8/04)

6 Aug 2004