by Steven Ertelt
March 27, 2007
Canberra, Australia (LifeNews.com) — Members of the Labor Party in Australia are backing off of their support for a bill that would force participants in the government’s abortion counseling program to tell women considering an abortion where they stand on the contentious issue. The pro-abortion bill is meant to undermine the program.
The administration of Prime Minister John Howard put together the abortion counseling program to help reduce the number of abortions in the island nation.
The Catholic welfare agency Centacare will put together guidelines for the hotline, which has pro-abortion groups worried that its pro-life position will bias the service against abortion.
In December, a group of pro-abortion lawmakers filed legislation to force the centers to include information in their advertising saying they don’t refer women to abortion businesses. The bill would require abortion facilities to include a statement in their ads saying they don’t typically refer women to pregnancy centers for abortion options.
Labor’s front bench members initially supported the bill but are now backing off, according to a report in The Australian newspaper.
After objections from caucus members and backbenchers, Labor leader Kevin Rudd said parliamentary leadership will hold off on support so it can review the bill further.
Abortion advocates in Australia have, like their American counterparts, been increasingly targeting pregnancy centers and hotlines that provide abortion alternatives.
Centacare chief executive Bernard Boerma defended his group’s involvement.
"It is about providing information to assist women to make their own decisions, rather than trying to influence women on one course or another," he told the Herald Sun.
Health Minister Tony Abbott told the Herald Sun newspaper that the partnership will not compromise the credibility and integrity of the pregnancy counseling service.
"Everyone has their own personal views and values, but that doesn’t stop people from delivering professional services," he said.
"One of the reasons why we have so many abortions in this country is that we do not offer enough support to women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant," Abbott added.