In Abortion

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the great abortion battle that ended in the great pro-life defeat in Western Australia in May 1998. Do you remember how it all began?

There was a baby in a bottle on a shelf in a fridge. This baby had only lived several months from conception, so in death it was little, little enough to fit into a bottle—or, more precisely, a jar. A jar just emptied of jam, perhaps, or pickled onions.

The baby’s sister told about her bottled sibling for news at school. It was something unusual and worth telling. Goodness, that’s news, all right—a baby in a bottle in a fridge! None of the other children had anything half as interesting to tell. Everyone was captivated, including the teacher.

The teacher told the police and the police found the news difficult to ignore. They knew about the 8,000 yearly killings of babies in Perth abortion “clinics” and they knew that these killings were against the law, but they had no compassion for the 8,000 and no concern for the law that was intended to protect them. But this, this bottled body, this preserved evidence, this inconvenient truth, was simply too much for them to ignore.

So the police charged the doctor who had killed the baby in his abortion clinic. They used the state’s long-neglected abortion law to bring the charge. It was in the news. It caused a stir.

Of course, assorted leftists—feminists, humanists, socialists and the multitudes they have misled—immediately wept and raged at the injustice and hard-heartedness of the whole affair. How appalling to punish a doctor for helping a woman to exercise her right to choose! The trauma he must be suffering! And he had been so considerate, too, to comply with the woman’s request to keep the aborted products of her conception!

And yes, the woman did request the remains. She was not, it seems, completely without maternal feelings and human conscience. She knew her baby was … her baby. It was not a blob of protoplasm or an expendable part of her body, like an appendix. It was a baby, and it was hers.

That knowledge ought to have stopped her from seeking an abortion, certainly. She is without excuse. And yet, to her credit, she did not want her baby’s body unceremoniously disposed of along with the bodies of the other babies aborted that day. She wanted to give her baby a proper burial, in her homeland, New Zealand. And so she put it in the refrigerator until she could respectfully lay its mortal remains to rest.

It was in the news and the news frightened the Premier and his government. It might not be popular to prosecute the doctor who killed and bottled the baby. After all he had killed in a noble cause. Something had to be done to stop the political damage.

So the Premier, who had several years earlier assured pro-life advocates that he was staunchly opposed to abortion, directed his Attorney General to draft a bill to legalise abortion. And while the Attorney General did this, he apparently found time to help a member of the Opposition draft a second abortion bill. Both bills were designed to make unborn babies pay for their mothers’ choices, although the Government maintained the pretence that its bill was somehow less despicable than the private member’s bill.

The Premier gave over the Parliament almost entirely to the consideration of these two abortion bills. They were debated simultaneously in the two Houses of Parliament: the Government bill in the Legislative Assembly first, the private member’s bill in the Legislative Council first. The debate continued for nearly three months.

During these three months, pro-life advocates, among other things, fielded petitions that were signed by tens of thousands and organised protest rallies at Parliament House that were attended by thousands. And pro-life politicians fought passionately and eloquently in parliament on behalf of the unborn, striving to soften and turn the hearts of their pro-abortion colleagues. All to no avail.

In the end, the private member’s bill, the bill put forward by Labor MLC Cheryl Davenport, passed both houses of parliament. Even then, pro-lifers did not give up. They held candlelight vigils outside Government House in the hope of dissuading the Governor from giving royal assent to the legislation. But, sadly, the Governor felt it was his duty to sign off on the lives of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. And he did his duty. The Acts Amendment (Abortion) Act 1998 was promulgated and immediately every protection was stripped from the unborn children of Western Australia.

All this evil came in response to a baby who was aborted but not discarded with the other babies who were aborted in the same clinic on the same day. A cruel irony, isn’t it? There ought to have been a mass welling up of sympathy for that baby in its glass coffin half hidden behind the milk and the meat in its mother’s refrigerator. Instead, the baby’s killer got the sympathy—and the legal go-ahead to kill even more unborn babies.

So, ten years ago there was a baby whose secret betrayal in a clinic became a public betrayal in a parliament, a baby whose unlawful killing precipitated the killing of the law that forbade the killing of the unborn in Western Australia. And for every year since, over 8,000 babies have been lawfully put to death. More than 80,000 government-sanctioned killings in just ten years! It makes for some anniversary, don’t you think?

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