Astonishing admissions re. abortion in Australia
This from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Quote:But the attempt to exploit abortion took Gillard into a league of political desperation unseen since McMahon. Much of the media reporting this week has described it as an abortion "debate". But there is no real debate. Neither main party has any intention of changing the status quo. It is a settled matter. It was settled 40 years ago. It was settled in favour of legalised abortion. It is merely posturing and innuendo by Gillard in an attempt to create a fear campaign.

When McMahon raised abortion in 1972, it was not yet legally available. In the face of an oncoming Labor landslide led by Gough Whitlam, McMahon tried to run a scare campaign by claiming that Labor would legalise abortion.

Whitlam refused to engage; he said that if the matter ever came before the Parliament, Labor MPs would exercise a conscience vote. The campaign failed and Whitlam won power.

Rodney Cavalier, a Labor historian and former NSW minister, explained the history of the abortion debate this week in one of his long-running series of newsletters, the idiosyncratic "Southern Highlands Branch Newsletter".

Although it is not publicly distributed and sent only to his own circle, Cavalier was so ashamed of Gillard's blatant opportunism that he sent me his commentary for publication. His assessment:

"The nation's present Prime Minister has been reckless in raising an issue that will end in grief for women and men who believe in a woman's right to choose, if ever the party political support for abortion should be put to the test.

"There is not a house of Parliament in any of the states or the Commonwealth which will vote for legalised abortion. Only an opportunist bereft of all hope would want to provoke a test vote for outlawing what is well settled."

Abortion became legally available not because of a parliamentary act but because of a 1972 decision of Justice Levine in the NSW Supreme Court in the case of Regina versus Wald. The argument in the political arena was irrelevant to the law.

The reason that access to legal abortion remains settled in Australia is what Rodney Cavalier describes as "a conspiracy of silence".

He explains: The NSW Liberal premier "Bob Askin stoutly resisted efforts by the Right within the Liberal Party and lunatics at large to introduce legislation to override Levine.

"Bob refused to permit debate in the party room or the Parliament. He could defeat the lunatics only by not engaging with them.

"Neville Wran, dead scared of a rerun of abortion when he enjoyed a one-seat majority and a heavily Catholic caucus, played the same role. So has each premier since.

"Tony Abbott has not raised abortion ever since he entered the mainstream. Abortion remains legal because of a conspiracy of silence."

Gillard, by abruptly breaking the silence, threatens the status quo.

The NSW Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos, formerly John Howard's long-time chief of staff, explains the effect Gillard's statement has had in an opposition senator's office: "I'm starting to get email from all sorts of people saying the bill from John Madigan" - the lone DLP senator who proposes outlawing abortion for gender selection - "is worth having a look at.

"Madigan's campaign would have gone on anyway, but Gillard has put wind in its sails, and put wind in the sails of an issue long settled. This is bad, really bad. She's prepared to sink this low. This was a settled issue. Now she's set it loose again. She's unleashed a whirlpool."

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