In the light of the PBS recommendation to subsidise the abortion drug RU486, Tory Shepherd editorialised in the Herald Sun on the lamentably crude views of pro-lifers. Unusually, Shepherd thinks pro-lifers don’t talk enough about all sorts of things (the mainstream media and their fellow travellers usually tell pro-lifers to shut up.)
Frightful people, pro-lifers. Apparently we ‘expend so much time on energy railing against the number of abortions in Australia’ – as do a lot of pro-choice people – but why can’t we do more to promote sex education instead?
That would be because it’s not working.
Publicly-funded and government-approved sex education’s been available in Australian schools in increasingly graphic and detailed form, to younger and younger children, for at least 40 years. These sex education programs have accompanied nationwide increases in the rates of STIs and have mysteriously paralleled the rise of the abortion rate in Australia.
Based on these results, I’d say that our sex education programs have been an unmitigated disaster. If road safety programs had outcomes like this, they’d have been consigned to the dustbin of history years ago.
Shepherd believes that because of RU486, pro-lifers will now be creating ‘tizz and fizz’ about ‘abortion on demand’. Again, that ship has sailed. Pro-lifers are all too aware that we’ve had abortion on demand in this country since around the 1970s, whether it was legally recognised or not.
And where, laments Shepherd, are the pro-lifers ‘advocating for cheap and easily accessible contraception’? A bit of homework on Shepherd’s part would have turned up the longstanding US organisation Feminists for Life.
And the pro-lifers ‘speaking out against rape, which can of course lead to unwanted pregnancy?’ Right here, for starters.
Shepherd tells us – I am assuming from her extensive experience in this line of work – that ‘There are some far more empathetic, balanced, fair and just ways to bring down the number of abortions than trying to make it harder for women to get them.’
And what ways would they be? How about:
- time to think, away from the pressures exerted by boyfriends, parents and employers?
- financial support?
- legal advice?
- welfare liaison?
- antenatal advice?
- adoption information?
- post-abortion grief and trauma counselling?
- access to further education?
- career planning?
If Shepherd had bothered to peek outside her bubble of righteous indignation, she might have found that practically every pro-life organisation in Australia has been offering exactly those services to women for years, with joyful results. Pushing RU486 is not one of those ways, because this ends joyfully for no one.
Shepherd believes that subsidising RU486 will ‘mainly help poor women and those outside the cities access a safer way.’ Unlikely. My guess is that it will be used by middle-class married/partnered women who already access a huge number of surgical abortions every year.
And if they’d like to read some product reviews from actual users of RU486, all they have to do is visit my blog.
Philippa Martyr blogs – pro-life-edly – at Transverse City.