Truth discarded and NSW MPs targeted in anti-abortion media rants
Louisa L 22 August 2019
On Friday 16 August, the Tele corralled key anti-abortion allegations, lies and distortions in one place.
It ignored the overwhelming vote in favour – a two thirds majority – implying NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was doing “deals” to “shore up support”.
The anti-abortion crew waited till Berejiklian was in Europe on a trade mission to prepare an ambush.
They used an upper house review they’d demanded to further air their allegations.
The Australian Medical Association actively supports the bill, demolishing an avalanche of anti-abortion amendments. None of this made the Tele.
One amendment played the race card against Chinese and Indian people who are alleged to abort female foetuses. The Tele raged against gender selection.
The Tele also warned doctors about a previous (failed) prosecution involving “live-birth termination” for late term abortions, but really aimed to stir up readers against an extremely rare occurrence.
Non-religious and non-political?
It turned truth on its head again in a headline, “Support group says majority of women are pressured to abort”.
According to the Tele, NSW Pregnancy Help Inc which opposed the bill alleges, “Almost all women who call a pregnancy support group in the Hunter region do so because their partners are threatening to leave them or not support the baby.”
Sadly, this is true for many women, but any claim it is the major reason women seek abortion is not backed by evidence.
Obviously, women being pressured not to have a baby they want would seek an agency like Pregnancy Help that counsels in favour of giving birth.
They don’t need nonsense that most women “regret abortions” or other half truths.
The Tele described the group as “non-religious and non-political”. But Pregnancy Help Inc encourages delay which makes abortion more complicated and dangerous.
The first fact sheet on its website speaks in glowing terms of motherhood and of adoption, but in entirely negative terms about abortions and their effect “on both mother and baby”, not “mother and foetus”.
The Pregnancy Help Inc “fact” sheet bleats about all the help a single mother gets. Tell that to single mums whose payments have been cut by outrageous demands of the privateers running the federal government’s ParentsNext!
Pregnancy Help Inc also insinuates that “vested or pecuniary interests in abortion facilities” are encouraging abortion.
The bill, said the Tele, was “rushed through parliament” without a “formal inquiry”. Clearly anti-abortion activists wanted more time to fan hysteria over their lies and distortions.
Rural women suffer most from delays
Another article that day (Friday, 16 August 2019) drove a wedge between the rural community and Berejiklian by making out she was more concerned with the abortion bill than Essential Energy’s rural job cuts.
It didn’t mention the AMA’s concerns about the disproportionate suffering for rural women and their families of delays that anti-abortionists tried to insert into the bill.
The article gave huge prominence to a leaked “call to arms” by Nationals Deputy Premier, Barillaro, targeting Berejiklian and other social liberals in Coalition ranks. The aim is to mimic the federal Coalition coup that cleansed all but the hard right.
Berejiklian backed down and ensured the job cuts would not go ahead, a win for far-right ‘champions’ of the working class as well as the workers themselves in a publicly owned company.
Scaremongering hits its target
Liberal Health Minister Brad Hazzard who co-sponsored the bill was also hammered by the Tele. He and Manly MP James Griffin were “called to a crisis meeting” of local members to explain their stand. Party members were “furious… about the whole process.”
In Sydney’s south eastern suburbs, which includes Cronulla where PM Morrison is based, only two of seven MPs voted in favour of the bill. MPs in these suburbs are open to pressure by well-organised and active community-based church groups.
These groups have successfully intervened in recent elections against Labor candidates. Former head of the Council for Civil Liberties, Cameron Murphy was narrowly defeated in Banks electorate after widely distributed and totally false allegations that he supported paedophilia.
In local media, the anti-abortion MPs each highlighted a different scaremongering ‘concern’, obviously coordinated well beforehand. No medical advice was included in the article. The local paper is now owned by Nine Network.
In a pointed attack noted by the Tele, the Armenian Apostolic Church to which Berejiklian belongs sent a representative to oppose the bill at the Legislative Council review.
It all had an effect.
Gladys Berejiklian returned to Australia. First the bill was delayed.
Next came this: the ABC’s Sarah Thomas wrote, “After pressure from religious leaders and conservative MPs, Ms Berejiklian said she would be prepared to change the bill to ban gender-based abortion.”
This is unlikely to save Ms Berejiklian. Too many other factors apart from her stand on abortion are at play, as those in the ruling class favouring far right methods mobilise their forces.