ACT women’s plan fails pregnant women

The new ACT Women’s Plan is a disappointing document because it misses an important opportunity to address many of the difficulties women with pregnancies face in Canberra, said Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association. Minister for Women, Katy Gallagher MLA, launched the Plan yesterday.

“Pregnancy is only mentioned once in the entire document – as a negative factor risking women’s education and training”, Ms Joseph said. “Yet being pregnant is a natural part of life for women. Women should have the opportunity to participate fully in social and economic life, whether they are pregnant or not. It is the Government’s job to assist this.

“The Plan recognises that pregnancy can make continuing education difficult, but doesn’t regard pregnancy as something that can be accommodated and shows little understanding of the factors behind teenage pregnancy.

“These factors include low self esteem, poor school performance, dropping out of school, low socio-economic status and early sexual activity. The Government has the opportunity to address each of these factors to help students facing difficulties.

“The Women’s Plan also fails to specifically address the important issue of pregnant women facing discrimination in employment. This was the subject of a major report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 1999 and requires ongoing work.

“The Plan is a wish list of goals for the Government, with little detail on how the goals will be achieved. Canberra’s women deserve better.”

Issued:    08 September 2004
Contact:  Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc,
telephone 02 6253 3100.

Morning-after pill safeguard necessary for women’s health

Women should be given the safeguard of a doctor’s prescription before taking the morning after pill, president of the ACT Right to Life Association, Mary Joseph said today. Ms Joseph was commenting on plans by Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott to put the morning-after pill Postinor-2 back onto a prescription-only list.

“It is safer for women to have the morning-after pill on prescription, rather than available over-the-counter. The morning-after pill is a hormonal preparation 50 times stronger than the mini pill. Prescriptions are necessary for many other hormonal drugs. It should be the same for the morning-after pill.

“Reports that sales have doubled and that girls as young as 13 are buying the drug are a concern. The manufacturer’s own product information cautions that there is ‘limited data available in young women of childbearing potential aged 14 to 16 years’.

“Postinor-2 can cause an early abortion by preventing an embryo from implanting in the womb. The drug continues to be described in debate as a contraceptive. But preventing the implantation of an embryo happens after conception. Women can’t give their informed consent to using the drug without knowing this.

“A requirement for a prescription would ensure the opportunity for a doctor to consider the woman’s medical history and to do a medical examination before making a judgement as to whether Postinor-2 is a suitable drug for a particular woman.

“This would include considering issues such as whether the woman is already pregnant, or whether the woman suffers from a range of conditions such as severe hypertension, unexplained vaginal bleeding or hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients of the drug.”

Issued:    15 June 2004
Contact:  Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc,
telephone 02 6253 3100.

Human cloning and human embryo experimentation: ban both

Human cloning could be a reality in the ACT within a few years under legislation to be debated today in the Legislative Assembly, warned Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association.

The Human Cloning (Prohibition) Bill and the Human Embryo (Research) Bill are expected to be debated in the ACT Legislative Assembly today.

“The announcement in February that a South Korean team of scientists had created the first human embryo clones means that human cloning is no longer just a theory, but a frightening reality”, Ms Joseph said. “The Stanhope Government should legislate to ensure that human cloning is never allowed in the ACT.

“The legislation places a ban on human cloning that is to be reviewed in a couple of year’s time. That legislated review allows the ban to be overturned. This loophole could mean allowing human cloning either to produce children or to produce embryos for experimentation.

“There is no practical difference between the procedure of cloning for reproduction or cloning for research. Both produce a cloned human being. Once a cloned embryo has been created it is either implanted in a woman to develop and be born, or it is destroyed for research.

“If we are serious about banning human cloning, we should permanently ban both cloning for reproduction and cloning for research.

“The Human Embryo (Research) Bill allows so-called ‘excess’ human embryos to be destroyed for research.

“The extraction of embryonic stem cells from embryos would be just a small percentage of the research allowed. Human embryos would also be used for drug testing, for examining the effectiveness of new culture media in assisted reproductive technology and for training clinicians in ART techniques. The legislation regulates the use of embryos but does not regulate the use of human embryonic stem cells.

“Human embryos are more than a chance collection of cells which can be used without consequence. The Government has ignored the deeper ethical issues of what it is to be human, and how we should respect that humanity.

“Every human being deserves our respect, whether embryonic, foetal, child or adult and no human being should be sacrificed for the good of another. This legislation directly counters these very important principles. It would give tacit acceptance to the commodification and commercialisation of human life.

“The legislation is presented as a choice between harming embryos or harming adults who have illnesses or conditions which might possibly be cured.

“But the science behind human embryo research has been questioned by prominent experts. There are also ethical alternatives through adult stem cell research – research which has already produced therapies. Embryonic stem cell research has not produced any therapies or treatments for human patients.”

Issued:    1 April 2004
Contact:  Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc,
telephone 02 6253 3100.

Bill of rights puts limits on the right to life: ACT will violate international human rights law

Human rights will be taken away from our smallest citizens if the ACT Government’s Human Rights Bill 2003 is passed, president of the ACT Right to Life Association, Mary Joseph, said today.

The ACT’s proposed Bill of Rights was introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly in November last year as the Human Rights Bill 2003 by the Stanhope Government.

“The Government claims the Bill is based on the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but it violates Article 6 of the Covenant which protects the right to life without any qualification or limitation whatsoever. This Bill states that the right to life ‘shall apply to a person from the point of birth'”, Ms Joseph said.

“The ‘from the point of birth’ condition is an exclusionary clause that is found nowhere in the ICCPR or in international human rights law. It is an express violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Australia has signed and ratified. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises children’s rights to ‘special safeguards and care’ including ‘appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth’.

Article 4 of the ICCPR stipulates that no government can derogate from the right to life even in times of “public emergency” and Article 50 states that no federal state may put limits on any of the rights contained in the Covenant.

“The human rights of children before as well as after birth have been recognised for 80 years, going back to the Geneva Declaration of 1924. They cannot be taken away by the ACT Government.

“Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly should reject the Bill of Rights if it does not recognise the right to life of our smallest citizens, even up to the point of birth.”

Issued:    02 March 2004
Contact:  Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc,
telephone 02 6253 3100.

New human embryo research bill would allow destructive research

Members of the Legislative Assembly should oppose the ACT Government’s plans to allow destructive embryo research to occur in Canberra, president of the ACT Right to Life Association, Mary Joseph said today.

The Government today introduced the Human Cloning and Embryo Research Bill into the ACT Legislative Assembly.

“This legislation crosses a line in saying that some human beings can be destroyed for research,” Ms Joseph said.

“Allowing destructive research on human embryos includes allowing embryos to be used to test drugs, to be used for toxicology studies or to be used to train clinicians.

“Human embryos would also be destroyed for their stem cells. But it should be remembered that scientists have not found a way to use human embryonic stem cells to find cures for medical conditions, while adult stem cells have been used many times to cure patients.

“The bill includes the associated but very different issues of a ban on human cloning and allowing destructive embryo experimentation. But while most people oppose human cloning, only some people support destroying embryos in experiments.

“It will put those MLAs who oppose destructive human embryo experimentation in the difficult position of, by voting to oppose embryo experimentation, also having to oppose a ban on human cloning. These two issues were split in debate in the Australian Parliament to allow politicians the opportunity to vote on each issue according to their conscience.”

Issued:    27 November 2003
Contact:  Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc,
telephone 02 6253 3100.

Abortion law change a tragic loss for Canberrans

President of the ACT Right to Life Association, Mary Joseph, said she was gutted by the vote in the ACT Legislative Assembly last night, which abolished all criminal laws relating to abortion and took away all protections for women considering an abortion, such as an informed consent booklet produced independently of the abortion industry.

“Effectively now a late term abortion specialist doctor could operate in Canberra without fear of legal restraint and abortions could be performed up to the moment of birth”, said Ms Joseph. “Whether that happens tomorrow or in ten years time, this is a significant and bad change.

“Women will no longer have the protection of having access to an informed consent booklet, produced independently of the abortion industry. The abortion industry, which has a financial conflict of interest in offering full and impartial information to women, will once again be the primary source of information for women.

“Nurses, health workers and counsellors will no longer have the legislated right to refuse to refer women for abortions because of a conscientious objection.

“And what will the Government do to address the complex issues of women forced to consider abortion? Nothing. The social factors which force women to consider an abortion they would prefer not to have will not be addressed. The sadness of women who have had an abortion will be ignored.

“The ACT Right to Life Association will continue to highlight these problems, do what it can to address them, and fully inform women of the hidden negatives of abortion. We’re in this for the long haul.”

Issued:    22 August 2002

Contact:    Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc, Tel 02 6253 3100

Valuing the lives of women, children

By Mary Joseph
The Canberra Times
23 January 2002

IN ANY debate on abortion laws, both the life of the unborn child and the damage to women need to be acknowledged. Yet in supporting legislation to decriminalise abortion, Legislative Assembly Member Roslyn Dundas attempts to normalise the tragedy of abortion by treating it as just another medical procedure (CT, January 6).

The abortion rate in the ACT is a devastating one abortion for every 2.5 live births. It is time for both the Government and community to address the real issues of support for pregnant women and the value we place on children and motherhood. We need to face up to our responsibilities and address directly the problems women face – not just offer them an abortion to treat the “symptom”.

We need to provide real alternatives to abortion and work to improve our workplaces, schools and tertiary institutions so that they will support and value all pregnant women and women with children. No woman should ever feel forced to choose between continuing her education or career and giving birth to her child. Yet this is the tragic choice that is normalised and accepted by decriminalising abortion.

Decriminalisation will not lead to a reduction in the abortion rate, as Dundas claims. The only accurate and comprehensive statistics on abortion collected in Australia over the past 30 years are for South Australia. They show that the abortion rate has increased over the past 30 years since abortion was legalised in that State from six per 1000 women of reproductive age in 1970 to 17.8 per 1000 women in 1999.

Annual figures for Canberra record 1600 pregnancies ended by abortion. The loss of life these figures represent is a profound social tragedy. Our present laws acknowledge the devastating nature of abortion. Normalising abortion by removing it from the Crimes Act will only entrench this tragedy more deeply into our society, making it even harder for women to continue their pregnancies and give birth to their children.

Proponents of decriminalisation make the irresponsible claim that the Crimes Act provisions on abortion are somehow aimed at punishing women.

The reality is that these laws are protective, not punitive. They have never been used to prosecute or punish women – they are there to protect the value of the life of the unborn child. Abolishing the Crimes Act provisions would leave the community no recourse to prosecute a doctor for performing late term abortions.

These laws also meet important human rights obligations under international law. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 states that “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth” (Preamble).

Governments must recognise that “every child has the inherent right to life” and ensure the child’s “survival and development” to the maximum extent possible (Article 6). What will it say about our commitment to human rights if we recklessly throw out all ACT laws protecting children before birth?

Dundas and other advocates of decriminalisation shy away from the grim reality of what this “procedure” really is: an invasive, violent act that dehumanises women and children. Descriptions of abortion such as “a common gynaecological surgical procedure” try to hide the fact that abortion takes the life of a child growing in her mother’s womb. But the reality that pregnancy is an extraordinary and beautiful relationship involving two bodies, two lives, cannot easily be suppressed.

We can now see this child clearly thanks to the remarkable developments in foetal medicine over the last 30 years. Dramatic advances in the care and survival rates of premature babies have highlighted the unmistakable humanity of these tiniest persons long before full-term. Doctors are now treating unborn children as unique patients, through ultrasound technology and foetal surgery, proving that an unborn child can experience pain from as early as 13 weeks.

The bill introduced by Wayne Berry to remove the Crimes Act provisions on abortion flies in the face of these medical advances and findings. It would leave no legal means to discourage mid and late-term abortions in the ACT now or in the future.

Late-term abortion specialist Dr David Grundmann says that he regularly performs abortions to 24 weeks and that he would consider performing abortions to 28 weeks.

We must work to develop genuine, caring and compassionate responses to unplanned pregnancies, not sweep away the law that affirms the truth everyone, deep down, really knows: that pregnancy involves something extraordinary, uniquely worthy of protection – a life within a life.

Mary Joseph is president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc.

Valuing the lives of women, children

By Mary Joseph
The Canberra Times
23 January 2002

IN ANY debate on abortion laws, both the life of the unborn child and the damage to women need to be acknowledged. Yet in supporting legislation to decriminalise abortion, Legislative Assembly Member Roslyn Dundas attempts to normalise the tragedy of abortion by treating it as just another medical procedure (CT, January 6).

The abortion rate in the ACT is a devastating one abortion for every 2.5 live births. It is time for both the Government and community to address the real issues of support for pregnant women and the value we place on children and motherhood. We need to face up to our responsibilities and address directly the problems women face – not just offer them an abortion to treat the “symptom”.

We need to provide real alternatives to abortion and work to improve our workplaces, schools and tertiary institutions so that they will support and value all pregnant women and women with children. No woman should ever feel forced to choose between continuing her education or career and giving birth to her child. Yet this is the tragic choice that is normalised and accepted by decriminalising abortion.

Decriminalisation will not lead to a reduction in the abortion rate, as Dundas claims. The only accurate and comprehensive statistics on abortion collected in Australia over the past 30 years are for South Australia. They show that the abortion rate has increased over the past 30 years since abortion was legalised in that State from six per 1000 women of reproductive age in 1970 to 17.8 per 1000 women in 1999.

Annual figures for Canberra record 1600 pregnancies ended by abortion. The loss of life these figures represent is a profound social tragedy. Our present laws acknowledge the devastating nature of abortion. Normalising abortion by removing it from the Crimes Act will only entrench this tragedy more deeply into our society, making it even harder for women to continue their pregnancies and give birth to their children.

Proponents of decriminalisation make the irresponsible claim that the Crimes Act provisions on abortion are somehow aimed at punishing women.

The reality is that these laws are protective, not punitive. They have never been used to prosecute or punish women – they are there to protect the value of the life of the unborn child. Abolishing the Crimes Act provisions would leave the community no recourse to prosecute a doctor for performing late term abortions.

These laws also meet important human rights obligations under international law. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 states that “the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth” (Preamble).

Governments must recognise that “every child has the inherent right to life” and ensure the child’s “survival and development” to the maximum extent possible (Article 6). What will it say about our commitment to human rights if we recklessly throw out all ACT laws protecting children before birth?

Dundas and other advocates of decriminalisation shy away from the grim reality of what this “procedure” really is: an invasive, violent act that dehumanises women and children. Descriptions of abortion such as “a common gynaecological surgical procedure” try to hide the fact that abortion takes the life of a child growing in her mother’s womb. But the reality that pregnancy is an extraordinary and beautiful relationship involving two bodies, two lives, cannot easily be suppressed.

We can now see this child clearly thanks to the remarkable developments in foetal medicine over the last 30 years. Dramatic advances in the care and survival rates of premature babies have highlighted the unmistakable humanity of these tiniest persons long before full-term. Doctors are now treating unborn children as unique patients, through ultrasound technology and foetal surgery, proving that an unborn child can experience pain from as early as 13 weeks.

The bill introduced by Wayne Berry to remove the Crimes Act provisions on abortion flies in the face of these medical advances and findings. It would leave no legal means to discourage mid and late-term abortions in the ACT now or in the future.

Late-term abortion specialist Dr David Grundmann says that he regularly performs abortions to 24 weeks and that he would consider performing abortions to 28 weeks.

We must work to develop genuine, caring and compassionate responses to unplanned pregnancies, not sweep away the law that affirms the truth everyone, deep down, really knows: that pregnancy involves something extraordinary, uniquely worthy of protection – a life within a life.

Mary Joseph is president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc.

These changes won’t make abortion rare

Earlier this year Labor MLA Wayne Berry stated abortion “must be safe, legal and preferably rare”. Some might be surprised that Berry would profess concern with making abortion rare.

Berry’s legislation, introduced into the Legislative Assembly this week, would strike down the few protections that would help achieve his goal of fewer abortions.

Berry’s new, free-market approach to abortion can only lead to more abortion. Berry wants to abolish laws restricting abortion and to repeal the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Act 1998.

Should he succeed, there would be no cooling off period to give a woman time to consider the decision, and women would no longer have the right to have accurate, independent information on the physical and psychological risks of the procedure in the form of the informed consent booklet, to help them make an informed decision.

Berry has made the claim that this legislation forces women to look at foetal pictures, but it does nothing of the kind.

It ensures that women are “provided” with the informed consent booklet so that they have all the information to hand if they wish to use it. No more, no less.

Berry on the other hand wants to ensure that women are no longer allowed easy access to that information. His approach risks their informed consent to abortion.

Abolishing these laws would also take away what little protection there is for unborn children. How does Wayne Berry think abolishing these limited protections will help make abortion rare?

A report issued by the ACT Right to Life Association in March this year called Missing Children, Damaged Mothers, revealed that there were 1664 abortions in the ACT in the 1999-2000 financial year.

Two-thirds of teenage pregnancies in the ACT end in abortion and the rate for all ACT women is one abortion for every 2.5 live births. That’s certainly not rare.

The statistics published in the association’s report were based on statistics issued as required by the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Act – the legislation Berry wants to repeal.

So without the statistics, how would he know if abortion ever became rare?

How would he understand the problem so that he could work to make it rare?

The association wrote to Berry to set out the problems revealed by the statistics, suggesting some possible courses of action to expand women’s choices, such as ensuring pregnant teenage women have good supportive structures to ensure they can finish their education.

Berry did not bother to write back.

The result of having no restrictions on abortion – the world desired by Berry – would be that the small but significant protective role of the current laws would be lost.

Several published studies such as We Women Decide (1994) and Giving Sorrow Words (2000) suggest that some women are coerced to have an abortion.

A cooling-off period can give a woman time to withstand the pressure to rush into an unwanted abortion, to consider her situation and to seek the support she needs.

The legislation also requires that an informed consent booklet be provided to women to ensure that they have access to accurate, independent information on abortion and their alternatives.

It is only by finding and providing real and attractive alternatives for women that we can make abortion rare.

Previously the primary source of information for women considering an abortion was the place offering the abortion.

Even Berry can’t bring himself to argue that abortion is a good thing.

Despite wanting to take away all restrictions and trying to ignore the deeper social problems underlying abortion, he still can’t quite convince the public that an abortion is anything less than a human tragedy. He still has to say that he wants abortion to be rare.

That reticence to confront abortion as human tragedy has been reflected in past elections in Berry’s reluctance to address the issue and come clean with his plans on abortion policy.

In a statement to the Assembly in August Berry said that “we need to stand up and make our position known . All candidates for the fifth election should be scrutinised for their policies and what they stand for . The history of the ACT Legislative Assembly is peppered with candidates who get elected with very little of their policies known, and the community needs no more surprises suddenly being sprung on them” (The Canberra Times, 9 August 2001).

Chief Minister Jon Stanhope’s recent surprise censoring of foetal pictures in the informed consent booklets comes to mind.

Berry has been more forthcoming this year, but it is revealing to look at Berry’s earlier election record in the light of this statement.

After the 1992 election Berry worked to open a private abortion clinic in Canberra.

Did he tell anyone about that before the election? No.

The day after the 1998 election, Berry announced he would be trying to decriminalise abortion.

Did he tell anyone about that before the election? No.

At every ACT election the ACT Right to Life Association has written to Mr Berry to ask him about his stance on abortion.

Has he ever answered? No.

So what is Berry’s real motive for such statements?

Perhaps he hoped that by raising this issue more than two months out from the ACT election that the electorate would have forgotten his statements by then.

Perhaps he hopes that the public will have forgotten his contribution to the human tragedy of abortion.

Berry can hardly claim a mandate for his actions. His vote has been dropping over past elections as his agenda has been revealed, from 16% of first preference votes in 1995 to 12% in 1998 and 7% this year.

Berry said that candidates for the Assembly should be scrutinised for what they stand for. Then let that scrutiny begin with him.

Let Berry tell the ACT electorate what he has done in the past, and what he will do in the future, to make abortion rare.

The ACT Right to Life Association has been working to make abortion rare for almost 30 years. Perhaps, at last, the time has come for Berry to do the same.

Mary Joseph is president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc.
email: mary@actrtla.org.au

Protecting the unborn who have disabilities

The Sunday Times (The Canberra Times), 23 January 2000
By Nicola Pantos

It’s time for many of the critics of the Federal Government’s decision to cut Medicare rebates for early ultrasound tests to be up-front about why they’re upset.

Behind the rhetoric about denying choice and compromising women’s health is the more sinister reason for their discontent: the lost opportunities to search for and destroy unborn children with disabilities.

Not that many people have been prepared to put it that plainly.

But their intention is pretty clear: they object to the reduced opportunity to detect and eliminate “abnormalities” using abortion. The perception is that being born with a disability is a fate worse than death.

The demonising of disability is aptly demonstrated by the often-used phrase “severe foetal abnormality”.

What this phrase really means is that all unborn children who can be detected with a disability, whether it be spina bifida, Down syndrome or another condition, will be in danger of abortion.

Both spina bifida and Down syndrome are disabilities which present great challenges, but with which many people in our community live happy lives.

These people are not the monsters implied by the offensive term “severe foetal abnormality”.

The intolerance of our society for people with disabilities is demonstrated by figures released last year by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which show that in 1987, about seven babies born out of every 10,000 had spina bifida.

By 1996, this had fallen to about three for every 10,000 live births. This fall was not achieved by some miracle of foetal surgery, nor by the increased consumption of folic acid.

In 1996, 46 per cent of unborn children detected with Spina Bifida were aborted, up from 7% in 1987.

Prenatal diagnosis, with the intent of selectively aborting unborn children because they have a disability, is blatant discrimination.

But why does this discrimination exist? Is it the parents’ fault? I don’t think so.

There are lots of parents out there who are scared that their child will have a disability not just because they are caring people, but because they know how difficult it will be for them and their child, often without adequate support for their special needs.

Often parents are given a particularly negative assessment of their child’s prospects if their child is identified as having a disability.

They know that their child must meet our society’s strict physical and mental standards, or be considered of lesser value.

IVF pioneer Dr Robert Edwards, at a conference in France last year, commented that “soon it will be a sin of parents to have a child that carries the heavy burden of genetic disease.

“We are entering a world where we have to consider the quality of our children”.

Disabled Peoples International put it best when they commented on a government discussion paper some years ago: “it is a particular tragedy that people should feel that there is so little social support and assistance, and that disability is so appalling that they should seek an abortion lest they raise a ‘defective’ child.

“Indeed, we question a social system which is prepared to fund the elimination and screening of people with disabilities, yet is not prepared adequately to fund the personal care and education services we need to lead autonomous, happy and successful lives in the community.”

Cost is another factor that some commentators no longer feel embarrassed to raise.

The Canberra Times’ editorial of January 11 championed early ultrasound tests saying “… the costs may be justified given the long-term costs of bringing up disabled children.”

The cost-benefit of allowing a person to be born must surely be a very difficult calculation, not the least because of all the intangibles like the happiness a person can experience just from being alive.

The benefit side of the equation is rarely addressed – it is assumed that a child with a disability will bring no benefit, no happiness to others.

More importantly, it is assumed that the child has no inherent value and that she or he can only be a cost.

During a debate on abortion law in the ACT in 1998, the ACT Department of Health and Community Care advised the Health Minister of the cost – but not the benefit – of every extra child born with a disability.

Ironically, though these life or death decisions often depend on the result of an ultrasound test, the recent Senate report “Rocking the Cradle” found that the tests are not 100% accurate and that sometimes babies are falsely identified as having an “abnormality”.

“In some instances normal babies have been aborted because of false-positive diagnoses.”

One submission highlighted by the Senate Committee said “I find that most women, once aware of the likelihood of false positive or false negative results with regard to ultrasound do not want the screening.”

The more we are willing to accept and support people with disabilities as just a natural part of our community’s diversity, the more compassionate and accepting we will all become.

This discrimination against disabilities doesn’t just mean the end of many unborn children detected with a disability.

It also means that the lives of the people who slip through the screening net are devalued too

Nicola Pantos is president of the ACT Right to Life Association and spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations.