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Family First adds to pressure on Govt over abortion

The Family First party has joined Catholic Health Australia in challenging the Federal Government to deal with the escalating number of abortions, asserting that there is no "public or parliamentary will" to do anything.

The Age reports that the party, which from 1 July will have a senator, called for an open debate "without vitriolic attacks" from either side. Federal chairman Peter Harris also urged formal information sessions for women seeking abortions. The present "off-the-shelf" system left too much to chance and "most women enter the process of abortion ignorant of the potential consequences of their actions", he said.

Family First is opposed to abortion but Mr Harris said the party recognised it was "a feature of Australian life, so all we advocate is that more information is provided". Mr Harris said Opposition Leader Mark Latham was correct in saying women should be able to make their own judgements about abortion.

"We are sure Mr Latham would agree, however, that women should be able to make these judgements fully equipped with appropriate information," he said.

Family First's intervention followed Catholic Health Australia's call for a public inquiry into abortion. Catholic Health will write to all health ministers today calling on them to set up the comprehensive inquiry into abortion it has urged.

The Age today quotes Catholic Health CEO Francis Sullivan, who asked why some 21 week foetuses are saved at significant expense, while others are aborted.

He said the inquiry should also look at the long-term emotional and physical impact of abortions on the men and women involved.

"One of the most stark issues is to make transparent the rates of abortions. The country has been lulled into a sense of ignorance: in many cases, out of sight is out of mind."

Meanwhile today's issue of Online Catholics quotes Federal Minister for Health Tony Abbott, who told last week's Catholic Administration conference in Sydney that abortion is a "stain on our national character" that can and should be reduced.

"We can and should do something about it," Mr Abbott told the conference, which was attended by a number of bishops, including Cardinal Pell.

Mr Abbott appealed to the assembly on several occasions to use their Catholic 'clout' to lobby for change in abortion laws.

"I respectfully put it to the leaders of the church who are present here tonight that if, on a per capita basis, Catholics devoted as much moral energy to these 100,000 extinguished lives as we do to the far smaller number of children in detention, if senior Catholics were as morally indignant about the unambiguous moral tragedy of abortion as we are about the less clear cut question of immigration detention then there would be change. Then there would be change and change we should have."

The Minister expressed concern that Australia's social priorities were not in order, indicating that abortion resulted from teenage sex, and the refusal amongst single pregnant women to proceed with their pregnancy and choose adoption.

Educate women, says Family First (The Age 3/11/04)
Abbott promises to act on abortion (Online Catholics 3/11/04)

Coalition MPs in split over abortion (The Australian 3/11/04)
Editorial: Nothing to fear in a new debate about abortion (The Australian 3/11/04)
Cut the talk and ban late abortion says MP (The Advertiser 3/11/04)
Melinda Tankard Reist: Take a look at late-term abortions (The Australian 3/11/04)
Australian Prime Minister calls for debate on abortion law (Catholic News Agency 2/11/04)
Australian leaders worried by "abortion epidemic" (Catholic World News 2/11/04)
Catholic Health calls for abortion inquiry (CathNews 3/11/04)
Church demands abortion inquiry (Sydney Morning Herald/Australian Associated Press 1/11/04)
Place Abortion on Health Ministers Agenda (Catholic Health Australia 1/11/04)
New pro-life agenda (Daily Telegraph 2/11/04)
Abbott and Pyne concerned by abortion rates (ABC Radio The World Today 1/11/04)
Latham enters abortion row (The Age 1/11/04)
Abortion rate worries Abbott (ABC Radio AM 1/11/04)
No plans for change, says Abbott (Townsville Bulletin 1/11/04)
Abbott inflames abortion debate (The Courier Mail 2/11/04)
Abortion out of control, says minister (The Age 2/11/04)
Late terminations a minority, but rising (The Age 2/11/04)
No regrets over aborted foetus (The Age 2/11/04)
Alarm at abortion rate (The Advertiser 2/11/04)
New fight for the unborn (The Australian 2/11/04)
Church demands abortion inquiry (Sydney Morning Herald 1/11/04)
Abbott and Pyne concerned by abortion rates (ABC Radio The World Today 1/11/04)
Abortions not an 'epidemic': Eva Cox (ABC Radio The World Today 1/11/04)

Australian theologian says don't judge pro-abortion politicians (CathNews 27/9/04)
Catholic women more likely to have an abortion (CathNews 6/8/04)
Abbott says abortion film 'will do no harm (CathNews 12/7/04)
Abbott calls Catholics to action over abortion (CathNews 29/4/04)

3 Nov 2004