by Maria Vitale Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
February 1, 2005
Sydney, Australia (LifeNews.com) — An ecumenical effort for pro-life initiatives is now underway in Australia. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other faiths are banding together in an unprecedented effort to reduce the number of abortions by changing hearts, minds and the law.
Leaders from various religious denominations met in Sydney in an effort to make abortion a top issue on Australia’s political agenda.
The coalition is pushing for restrictions on late-term abortions, greater awareness of alternatives to abortion, and better information given to pregnant women about abortion’s risks and alternatives.
The clergymen called on governments to end the profit incentive for private centers that perform late-term abortions.
A spokeswoman for the Anglican Church, Tracy Gordon, said the meeting was called in response to last year’s nationwide debate on abortion. The controversy erupted after Health Minister Tony Abbott said Australia’s abortion rate was too high. The number of abortions performed in Australia is estimated to be between 70,000 and 100,000 a year.
According to the Australian press, Abbott sent a message of support to coalition members, saying, “If possible, we should move beyond the old pro-life, pro-choice debate to enable women to do their best on behalf of their children."
Spokesmen for the coalition say the group is hoping to close the information gap many pregnant women face when considering abortion.
“It is a united call on governments to provide meaningful initiatives for women confronted with an unexpected pregnancy,” Gordon told the Advertiser newspaper. “For the first time in this country religious leaders have gathered to declare their opposition to abortion and to call for something better for women and their babies."
Members of the clergy also want women to be given accurate information about physical and psychological risks of abortion, along with calling for improved education programs on pregnancy and abortion. The group is setting up a fund to study the consequences of abortion. Coalition members are also lobbying for better statistics on abortion rates.
A number of politicians attended the meeting as observers, including Liberal MP Alan Cadman, Labor’s John Murphy, National Party Senator Ron Boswell, and independent Brian Harradine.
Senator Boswell told the Australian press, "So many different figures have been used and claims made in the recent public debate on abortion that I’ve asked the minister for the latest data, so we can be sure of the basic facts. Let’s see what the facts are now. There’s nothing to be gained from hiding from them."