Survey reveals Australians want fewer abortions

Most Australians want a reduction in the number of abortions without restricting access to the procedure, a new survey co-authored by Fr John Fleming on behalf of the Adelaide-based non-denominational Southern Cross Bioethics Institute.

More than 1200 people were interviewed for the survey, which was titled Give Women Choice: Australia Speaks on Abortion.

Dr Fleming said the report showed Australians were dissatisfied with the traditional pro-life versus pro-choice debate.

They wanted an end to the bitter polarisation, said Dr Fleming.

"Between what many Australians view as the twin poles of the abortion debate, pro-choice and pro-life, there is a continuum of varying opinions, reasons and levels of comfort," he said.

Dr Fleming said the report, which is the first from a four-stage research project, was designed to look at the complex issue of abortion from the perspective of all Australians, not just those currently engaged in the debate.

"It is conservatively estimated that one in four Australian pregnancies end in abortion - and 73% of Australians believe that rate is too high," he said.

"More significantly, an overwhelming 87% of Australians endorse an approach that works to reduce the number of abortions without restricting access to the procedure."

The survey found seven out of 10 Australians agreed with arguments for legal access to abortion based upon women's rights and the idea that abortion is "a necessary evil".

But 58% did not accept the "foetus is not a person" argument.

Dr Fleming said one of the most important findings of the survey was that Australians needed to be better informed about abortion and its alternatives.

"Only 22% of Australians believe they are well informed on abortion, and 71% want a continuing and inclusive debate about giving women real alternatives to abortion, and the opportunity to continue their pregnancies," he said.

"Women need to be aware of alternatives."

The executive summary reported that 62% of respondents supported abortion on demand, although this support was reduced when different circumstances were considered.

Support for abortion was highest (85%) in cases involving mild or severe foetal disability and lowest (15%) when in cases where the foetus was healthy and there was no abnormal risk to the mother.

Australians want fewer abortions: survey (Seven News/Australian Associated Press 2/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Southern Cross Bioethics Institute
Life Office, Archdiocese of Sydney

Bishop says abortion figures a "national disgrace" (CathNews 29/4/05)
Morning after pill a 'threat to women's welfare' (CathNews 15/8/03)

Medicare may cover abortion counselling (The Australian 3/5/05)
Majority still backs right to abortion (Sydney Morning Herald 3/5/05)
Counselling key to reducing abortions, survey finds (ABC News 2/5/05)
Reduce procedures but keep access: survey (The Courier Mail 3/5/05)
Bid to Curb Teens' Abortions Is Praised (Zenit 1/5/05 - temporary url)
Abortion in Britain: An Issue That Isn't Fading (Zenit 1/5/05 - temporary url)
USCCB official hails passage of interstate abortion bill, urges Senate to follow through (Catholic News Agency 29/4/05)
85,000 abortions a year (Herald-Sun 1/5/05)
Christopher Pearson: Abortion loses its majority (The Australian 30/4/05)
Women converge on Capitol Hill to tell Senate of their pro-life views (Catholic News Service 28/4/05)
Abortion figures 'national disgrace' - Bishop Fisher (Catholic Weekly 1/5/05)
Abortion rate hits 91,000 a year (Sydney Morning Herald 20/4/05)
Senator to move on abortion law (The Australian 20/4/05)

3 May 2005