It is really disturbing that once again abortion advocates dismiss the facts of abortion as misleading anti-abortion activity. The Queensland Perinatal and Mortality Report, 2015 clearly states that 27 babies were born alive following pregnancy terminations after 20 weeks. It also clearly states that 2 of these babies were the result of terminations for psychosocial indications, meaning the babies themselves were clearly healthy.
That makes this statement (in the Guardian article) attributed to Carol Portmann, a maternal foetal medicine specialist, not just misleading, but completely false:
In all known circumstances, these abortions were carried out as a result of “significant physical or genetic fetal abnormalities or significant medical problems that constitute reasonable risk to the mother’s medical or psychological wellbeing”, she said.
Where the information about these babies has been picked up by the media, commenters on social media have been alternately horrified, or in disbelief, with some stating emphatically this the whole thing is made up and never happens. It is the kind of reporting in the Guardian article that seeks to perpetuate the misinformation the general public are exposed to, thereby making any attempts at assessing community attitudes about abortion completely invalid. If the facts about termination are withheld from the public, or worse still, the facts that are presented are simply not true, the community isn’t able to make an informed decision about what they think.
What I have seen over the past week as I watch social media is that those who are accepting the truth of this report, are in disbelief that such barbarism is allowed to occur in Australia. When they see reports from other states such as Victoria where many more babies are born alive and left to die after termination, they are more horrified.
It is easy to see why the public would be swayed by the way in which this article seeks to dismiss the facts and concerns of people. It is easier to believe that those trying to make this information public are fanatics than it is to believe that as human beings we allow this horrific practise to take place.
It is easier to continue to believe that all women are empowered and autonomous decision makers than to recognise how terribly we fail them at times of great need by offering them the death of their unborn children instead of the opportunity to birth them, love them, and grieve them fully if they are truly to die, or arguably worse still, the death of their healthy child to address their social circumstances.
If the expression of horror or grief, or disbelief at the extent to which these things occur is a measure of public opinion on abortion, then rather than removing all protections from women by making abortion even more widely available, we should be working to understand how we can better support them.