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Special Edition: Should we allow late abortion?

There have been a number of articles in the media about abortion in the last few weeks. The British Prime Minister has suggested that the time limit for (relatively) unrestricted access to abortion should be reduced from 24 to 22 or 20 weeks. A survey published tomorrow in an Australian medical journal suggests that the public in Australia support legal access to abortion, and do not believe that doctors should be sanctioned for performing abortion in the later stages of pregnancy if there is a good reason to do so.

This blog collects together resources and media articles relevant to the debate

Press Release

Medical Journal of Australia press release 05/07/2010


Lachlan De Crespigny Survey on community attitudes to early and late abortion

Julian Savulescu An ethical approach to abortion

De Crespigny, Douglas, Textor, Savulescu Australians support womens' access to abortion

Janet Radcliffe Richards Foetal
pain and the abortion debate: believing what you want to believe

Roger Crisp: Roman
Infanticide, Modern Abortion

Dominc Wilkinson: Viability and the abortion debate: what really matters?

Anders Sandberg Biting into the sour apple: liberal society,
abortion rights and sex selection

Lachlan De Crespigny Abortion for fetal abnormality

Lachlan De Crespigny Legal abortion time-limits: arbitrary limits harm women

Journal Articles



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4 Comment on this post

  1. The option should be available for those who do not want be carrying the very heavy burden of an undesired pregnancy.

  2. I agree that abortion should take place no later than 24 weeks, except if the child to be will suffer from great disablement in life and would do nothing except suffer on a daily basis as a consequence of being born.

  3. Australian attitudes to early and late abortion

    The results of the new survey by Crosby-Textor are to be welcome. It comes to no surprise to Liberty Victoria that the findings support the conclusion that the vast bulk of the Australian population supports liberal abortion laws. Though confirming that late terminations are more controversial, most people when confronted with circumstances such as severe abnormalities, endorse the view that abortion should be available.

    In one sense, the issue of late-terminations is misguided and often deceptive. It is an area that the Religious Right like to focus on as they are aware that the majority of adults are pro-choice with early terminations but less so with late terminations. However, as the authors point out, less than 2% of abortions occur at 20 weeks or later. This is not a fact that is pointed out by religious opponents as getting any traction on the issue requires the creation of panic and moral turpitude no matter how dishonest that impression is.

    This survey, though more comprehensive than previous surveys, is consistent with previous findings, even those conducted by Right to Life.

    The Religious Right often claim to represent the silent majority. Every legitimate survey or research suggests they do not. The Victorian Law Reform Commissioned appointed Professor David Studdert from the University of Melbourne to review the various surveys on abortion carried out since 2000.

    He examined the Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (AuSSA), the Australian Election Study (AES) survey, the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute (SCBI) survey, the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations (AFRTLA) survey and Marie Stopes International (MSI) survey. His results make for interesting reading.

    Studdert found that the surveys conducted from 2003 to 2005 suggest that 80% of Australians support a woman’s right to choose. Most interesting, however, was that despite the non-neutral questions, the SCBI and the AFRTLA surveys generally supported the main messages of the other surveys. That is, even the surveys conducted by religious organisations showed that a majority of the public, the true silent majority, support a woman’s right to choose.

    The Crosby-Textor surveys gaives added support to these earlier findings. What the various surveys hould do is provide some fortitude to government backbones in order that they ignore the voices of the loud minority and institute abortion law reform.

    In secular democracies it is absurd that women’s human right to moral autonomy and exercise of judgement should be undermined by a religious minority. People are free to believe in supernatural beings, however, they are not free to impose those beliefs on non-believers or to interfer with the right of others, namely, women to exercise control over their own bodies.

    Time for abortion law reform is long overdue. Hopefully the results of this survey will provide additional armour to enable politicians to make the necessary reform

    Anne O’Rourke
    Liberty Victoria – the Victorian Council for Civil Liberties

  4. I agree that abortion is always allowable for good reason. The good reasons become fewer as the fetus turns more and more into a recognizable human being. But saving the life of the mother is always a good reason.

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