MELBOURNE, March 14, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A peaceful protest has begun at the entrance to the car-park of the parliament where three years ago Australia’s most radical abortion laws were introduced.
On each of the 70 sitting days of Victoria’s parliament this year, pro-life protesters will display a green six-foot-high banner marked with one white cross for every baby aborted since the first of January, 2012.
The unmissable banner, which due to local council regulations must be carried by volunteers at all times, will stretch along the green hedge/fence at the back of parliament house beside the car-park entrance.
“The politicians are going to have to drive past this every time they come to work for all of this year,” said David Forster, the protest organiser. “They’re going to see that banner get longer and longer and longer. Every month when they come in, there will be another 2,000 white crosses added on to it.”
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When the protest began on the 7th of February the banner spanned twenty metres, containing 2,000 white crosses and requiring five volunteers. On the last sitting day of parliament this year, it will contain 17,000 white crosses and need 35 volunteers to support it across more than 170 metres.
“When you see even the 2,000 [white crosses] that we’ve got now, even our own pro-life people say, ‘Oh, it couldn’t be that many!’” said David. “A figure is a figure, but when you see the number, you think, ‘Goodness gracious, that couldn’t be happening.’”
Bernie Finn MLC, a member of the upper house of Victorian parliament, said that there has been a noticeable reaction inside parliament house to the protest. “There’s been two reactions here basically,” he said. “One from the pro-aborts and one from the pro-lifers: The pro-aborts are trying desperately to ignore the protest, the pro-lifers are having their priorities pricked, and being reminded that they should be doing a lot more about this issue.”
The number of abortions carried out in Victoria each year remains unknown. The protesters’ figure of 17,000 is a conservative estimate based on public health insurance claims.
The 2008 Abortion Law Reform Act legalized abortion in Victoria up to birth. Doctors may perform abortions up to 24 weeks gestation without any limits. After 24 weeks, the medical practitioner must consult one other doctor.
Controversially, the act denies healthcare professionals the right to conscientious objection and aims to compel them to be involved in abortion. Doctors may be prosecuted if they refuse to refer for an abortion, and along with nurses, are compelled to assist in the case of an emergency.
More than 60 amendments - including providing counseling for women, banning partial-birth abortion, mandatory reporting of suspected child/teenage sexual abuse, notifying the parent of a minor seeking an abortion, and providing anesthetic to the unborn child - were all rejected at the time the law was enacted.
Maryse Usher has been participating in the protest. “Each white cross represents a murdered child,” she said. “Our parliament has been almost totally silent on abortion since the 2008 bill was passed, so this protest is going to make politicians very uncomfortable, and it’s going to show them that this terrible slaughter that is going on in our society has not gone away.”
Victorian parliamentary records show that since the laws were passed, a statement, motion, or petition about abortion has been brought forward only twice in the lower house, and eight times in the upper house. Six of the latter were raised by Bernie Finn as well as Peter Kavanagh, who is now retired. Bruce Atkinson presented a small petition to the Legislative Council in 2009 and Jan Kronberg made a statement on the one-year anniversary of the legislation in 2009.
In 2010, when Peter Kavanagh called for an inquiry to investigate the deaths of 52 babies who suffered post-natal deaths after being born alive following failed abortions, the motion was defeated 27-9.
Bernie Finn said the protest is a reminder that everybody should be doing more to repeal the abortion act: “There’s been considerably more talk around parliament house about the 2008 laws since the protest started. When we look at all those white crosses, we are reminded that we should be doing more – and not just politicians, but the public too. We should all be doing more to repeal these laws.”