Abortion myths and facts


Myth: Public opinion on abortion is deeply divided

Australians support access to abortion — for three decades, opinion polls have consistently shown that most Australians support women’s right to choose and believe that forcing a woman to have an unwanted child is worse than allowing abortion.

Myth: The charges against the Cairns couple relate to drug importation or the fact they didn’t see a doctor.

The Australian Associated Press (AAP) media release, which was carried in most national media on July 20 and 21, again focused on the alleged import of the abortion drugs as the reason why the couple was being committed to stand trial.

This argument has also been used by the Queensland Labor government of Anna Bligh.

There are no charges related to importing or smuggling drugs in this case. The anti-abortion sections of the Qld Crimes Act in this case relate to the abortion itself. They are not concerned with how the abortion was obtained or whether a doctor was consulted or medical or surgical means were used.

Qld law prohibits the choice of abortion itself by the woman regardless of means.

Myth: It is illegal in all states of Australia for a woman to perform an abortion on herself without consulting a doctor.

There are no criminal penalties for the woman in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.

The Victorian Law Reform Commission in 2008 examined the issue of penalties for women seeking abortion. Following that, the reform of abortion law in Victoria made clear that a woman who consents to, or assists in, the performance of an abortion on herself is not guilty of an offence.

Myth: Abortion is a personal issue and should be subject to a “conscience” vote by parliamentarians.

Abortion is not a personal issue for parliamentarians unless they are a woman of reproductive age facing an unwanted pregnancy. The decision about having an abortion is personal, but the legal right to do so is political.

The right to decide must be guaranteed to all women.