Abbott returns fire over pregnancy counselling

Health Minister Tony Abbott has defended his decision to award a contract to operate a 24-hour pregnancy counselling hotline to Centacare following protests that a Catholic agency would not be able to offer objective advice.

According to a Herald-Sun report, Mr Abbott says cultural changes were prompting more women to abort pregnancies and called for greater soul-searching by those considering terminations.

"Once upon a time, women who found themselves pregnant were culturally conditioned to have the baby and have it adopted out," Mr Abbott told the Herald-Sun in an interview.

"These days, there is very different cultural conditioning.

"This is particularly the case for women who have got their whole lives ahead of them or women who have got things nicely under management - a baby, or an extra baby, is a terrible inconvenience."

Mr Abbott's comments were backed by a survey that showed 20-something women in stable relationships were most likely to have unwanted pregnancies, the Herald-Sun says.

He added that the national abortion rate, estimated at 84,000 a year, was too high.

The Government's new 24-hour pregnancy counselling hotline was the best way to help women make informed decisions about pregnancy, Mr Abbott said in comments responding to the controversy over his appointment of Centacare to help develop the hotline.

But Mr Abbott said counselling was aimed at supporting women, not influencing them. "The whole point of this is to try to ensure that, whatever decision a woman makes, it really is her decision and not something that has been forced on her by social conditioning," he said.

Mr Abbott told the Herald-Sun that he did not want to remove women's right to abortions.

"Absolutely not - I think every abortion is a tragedy, in a sense, but I am not going to be judgmental about people who decide to have an abortion," he said. "In the end, it's a matter for the individual facing those circumstances to decide."

Babies inconvenient - Abbott (Herald-Sun, 6/1/07)
Babies inconvenient for some: Abbott (The Age, 6/1/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Tony Abbott website
Tony Abbott (Wikipedia)

Abbott to implement Parliament stem cell decision (CathNews, 30/11/06)
Abbott lashes "evangelical" stem cell scientists (CathNews, 21/8/06)

8 Jan 2007

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