VICTORIA, Australia, May 9, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Australian member of Parliament is facing backlash among politicians, abortion groups, and international media over a bill he introduced that would ban sex-selective abortions and require doctors to save babies who survive abortions.
In headlines about MP Geoff Shaw's bill, which would affect the Australian state of Victoria, The Guardian and the International Business Times called the bill “radical.” Shaw, who is part of the Victorian Parliament, is also proposing that partial-birth abortions be illegal, and wants doctors to give anesthetics to babies as they are aborted. The final two parts of his bill include mandated counseling for women who want to have abortions, and required informed consent.
“If in society we are saying there should be more women on boards, there should be more females in Parliament, well you are killing them,” he has said. “Here in Australia we can’t kill snake eggs but we are quite happy to kill an egg in the tummy and it should be the safest place for a baby to be.”
In response to Shaw's bill, a prominent abortion advocate says that his concerns are based on “myths and misconceptions.” Women's Health Victoria Executive Director Rita Butera also said that “there is no evidence to suggest that there are any sex-selective abortions … happening in Victoria – we have a standard ratio of males to females.”
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Butera also said that Victoria has “a very good law when it comes to conscientious objection which respects a physician's beliefs while ensuring women have access to safe and unbiased medical attention.”
However, Section 8 of the abortion law in Victoria says that doctors who oppose abortion are required to refer women to another doctor. Shaw has previously pushed for doctors to be able to refuse to participate in the abortion process.
Shaw's efforts are considered particularly problematic for the Victorian Parliament, which has a multi-party system. Shaw was part of the Liberal Party until March, when he left the party and became an Independent. In the current distribution of seats, he holds the balance of power and his support is required for any legislation to pass the Parliament. The Coalition government relies on him to give the one-vote advantage to the Liberal Party.
While abortion was largely illegal in Victoria until 2008, a loophole for the mental health of the mother meant women regularly aborted their children. In 2008, abortion was officially decriminalized in Victoria.