…and Statistics

Despite Janet Albrechtsen’s recent tirade on the necessity of free speech, femonazis and PC etc etc, the “debate” on abortion seems to have disappeared from the headlines. This in itself points to the limitations of the media as a true public sphere for the resolution of issues rationally, but that’s another story. However, I’ve just become aware, courtesy of Australian Policy Online, of a new discussion paper by the Parliamentary Library on current statistics on termination of pregnancy and their limitations. As you might recall, Senator Boswell and friends put this question at the centre of their relaunch of the “debate”. I wonder if it’s about to heat up again.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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jc
jc
2022 years ago

Sorry, missed the earlier debate on this, so apologies if this point has already come up. Just thought I’d dip my toe in with a theory which came to me from a reliable source. The abortion debate, amongst other things, was Abbott’s compromise to Pell in exchange for Catholic support for the Liberals’ schools funding policy during the election. Of course, the debate is far more complex than that, but it is does explain the re-emergence of the issue after Howard supposedly extinguished it.

Oh … and another thing. You’d think that during this whole debate, someone might actually bother to talk to a woman who’s actually had an abortion to see what her views are on the issue. You know, first hand experience and all that, as opposed to theories based on religion, morality and ethics. Most women don’t feel ashamed or guilty and are quite happy to talk about it, if only someone bothered to ask.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

It’s an interesting hypothesis, jc, but is there any evidence for it?

I think the reason why women’s voices in this confected “debate” aren’t heard is that the experience and stories of women who’ve had terminations would give lie to the accusation that it’s some sort of frivolous choice akin to birth control.

My sister’s on the steering committee of a pro-choice group in Adelaide. I might suggest to her that real women talking about difficult choices isn’t a bad idea at all.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Let’s not get too carried away here. The federal Parliament doesn’t have constitutional power to change abortion laws, except in the teritories. The most it could do nationally would be cut Medicare funding for the procedure. And the most Howard would do is allow a debate on a private member’s bill to proceed, followed by a conscience vote. I would be astounded if an all-party majority existed for any significant changes, especially given that they have bugger-all constitutional power to do anything effective anyway.

I think it’s far more likely that it’s explained by the tactic I discussed in my post about Textor and Crosby (http://troppoarmadillo.ubersportingpundit.com/archives/008515.html)”

“It is the values you communicate, and the motivation you have, that influences the way people vote.”

They don’t need to actually do anything concrete, in fact it’s best if they don’t because it’s such a divisive issue. You get the best of both worlds if you have Abbott and Boswell and Anderson making all the right noises and projecting the values and motivations needed to keep the Catholics and evangelical protos and penties onside, while Howard reassures everyone else that they’re really not going to do anything at all.

My fear is that they’ll nevertheless decide they need to do some concrete (if meaningless) window-dressing, and tighten abortion laws in the territories on the theory that the worst that can happen is that they’ll lose one lower house seat (Solomon).

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

sorry Gentlemen but unless something in science has happened recently women cannot become pregnant by themselves.
Thus the decision to abort the baby can never be made just by the woman.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Saw that Solomon member a few times during the campaign and last night in question time – doesn’t look like he’d be any great loss, Ken?

Irant
2022 years ago

Interesting paper. But do Boswell and Abbott really want the stats to come out? It is in their advantage to have murky, incomplete data. The 100,000 abortions a year statistic is a good example.

jc
jc
2022 years ago

Are you wondering whether there is evidence that people who’ve experienced something actually have some insight to offer, or a degree of expertise in the matter? Well, I would hope the answer is Yes.

You’re right that such evidence could fuel the “birth control” accusations, but how will we know what women’s motivations are until we ask them?

We would most certainly discover that women have abortions for a variety of reasons and that their experiences are incredbily varied.

It will indeed be confronting for a lot of people to discover that for many women the overwhelming feeling is one of relief, rather than shame, guilt and regret. Not because they’ve made a frivolous slip-up which they’ve gladly dealt with, but because the burden which they bore alone is now lifted from their shoulders.

And anyone who cares to contend that women don’t bear the burden alone, needs to check in with reality.

Judging by the views expressed in the broader debate on Troppo, there’s a fair weight of evidence to suggest (some) men deeply resent the fact that women control reproduction and it irks them that women have the freedom to enable, prevent or terminate pregnancies at will. To a certain extent this may be true. But to women, this biological ability also presents a massive burden of responsibility. I wonder if men would be so judgemental of women’s “freedom to choose” if they were the ones burdened with the physical, pshychological, ethical, moral and emotional consequences of sex.

jc
jc
2022 years ago

Sorry, Mark. Just worked it out that you were querying whether there was any evidence for the Abbott/Pell theory. Sorry about the misunderstanding. Well, no, I don’t have any evidence. But I do love a good conspiracy theory, especially involving those two gentlemen.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

No probs, jc. Yes, I have no doubt that the experiences of women would add considerably to the debate on the issue and ought to be heard.

Indeed conspiracy theories about the Cardinal and the Monk seem to be legion.

Robert Merkel
2022 years ago

Ken, WRT your view that this is just flag-waving for the fundies: a) haven’t these people voted Coalition for decades anyway, and b) doesn’t the Liberal Party run the risk of scaring secular, pro-choice voters who like low interest rates (who are a lot bigger bloc than the fundies) on this issue?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Robert

Yes, there is a risk, and certainly the Coalition’s rhetoric will need to be very carefully calibrated to avoid it (as they’re clearly doing at the moment). But it’s really no different to many of the civil liberties issues surrounding asylum seekers and the War Against Terror, where there are also risks of antagonising significant groups of voters if rhetoric and policy responses aren’t carefully calibrated. But Howard (with the help of Crosby and Textor et al) is a past-master at this sort of balancing act. That’s why he’s won the last 4 elections in a row.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

And it certainly isn’t the case that the religious vote has always been solidly for the Coalition. The Catholic vote, for instance, has always flowed fairly strongly for Labor, except during the DLP split era, and quite a few of the penties from outer suburbia would previously have been Labor voters (and might be again with a conservative ALP leader like Beazley, hence the need for the Coalition to consolidate their support).

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

Ken said re getting too excited and Feds:
” The most it could do nationally would be cut Medicare funding for the procedure.”

And seeing you can’t stop all medicare items for all procedures to womens reproductive bits (curettes will still be needed, cancer surgery etc) it would take about 15 minutes to a month for everyone to agree on what other items would be used instead. So the figures will become even less clear than they are now.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Ken, the difference is, none of the outer suburban penties is likely to have relatives arriving in the next leaky boat from Indonesia, only to find themselves locked up in Baxter. But a lot of the penties have teenage daughters who could and sometimes do get accidentally knocked up, and would want the whole business sorted quick smart.

Ditto the Catholics.

These people have aspirations for their children, and teenage parenthood isn’t one of them.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

“penties?”

pentagrams?

pent up panties?

ball point ties?

I love learning new slang,

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Lack of legislative and constitutional power doesn’t seem to be stopping the Feds at the moment. One paper reported they’d like to standardise criminal law and securities law across Australia. Not to mention the incursions into education and IR, and the fiscally irresponsible practice of giving grants to dredge creeks with a clear waterflow and tourist railways that have gone bust, and grants direct to P&Cs, tying school money to flagpoles etc etc ad seemingly infinitum.

As I commented earlier in the week, the Liberal voters of Australia are in for a horribly nasty shock when we next elect a Labor government federally after the Howardians have finished trashing federalism and state jurisdictions.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

There’s a lot of federal Liberals right now who, having gotten the Senate at last, are acting like a football team on tour that’s been told by the team manager that they’ve got a free run at a brothel.

Few, if any, of the these takeovers will happen. The constitutional and fiscal realities will make sure of it.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Mark

The Commonwealth has power in securities law because of the banking, insurance and corporations powers in Constitution section 51, and in IR because of the corporations and interstate trade and commerce powers (allowing them to reach about 85% of the workforce directly). I can’t see how they could legislatively control either general criminal law or education directly, but they certainly can (and do) control education indirectly through tied grants under Constitution section 96. I don’t see how they could employ section 96 to force the states to buckle under on general criminal law or abortion regulation though, because the states have no need of Commonwealth funding for those purposes.

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

I can’t see it either Ken, but I think they’ve all gone mad lately. The High Court should have an interesting time this parliamentary term.

Polly
Polly
2022 years ago

Isn’t it rather hypocritical of Tony Abbott to be plastering his reunion with his “long lost son” all over the media and then to say “I certainly don’t think that Daniel ought to become a political football”?
Typical bloody pollie.