Wednesday, 22 August 2007

On demand

The Victorian Parliament plans to put the question of decriminalising abortion to the Parliament in order to remove it from the area of Common Law to Statute Law. One of the interesting facts about the discussion is that the assertion is frequently made that there are no accurate statistics of how many abortions are performed in Australia.
This seems incredible in a country which works well bureaucratically and has a sophisticated health system.
Only in our own state of South Australia are providers required to report abortions, and by projecting these to a national level the extrapolation is that there are about 50 to 80 thousand each year. [Though some more conservative groups quote figures in excess of 100,000...]
What this exposes, I suspect, is that it serves the purposes of certain interests to not accurately report abortion.
One can speculate why this might be so; but given that these sort of approximations indicate that abortion is the most commonly performed medical procedure surely there needs to be some accurate information gathering . Then certain other questions might be more accurately answered like:
  • is 'proper counselling' actually being offered to those who seek abortion? Given that this is a major premise on which abortion-on-demand is offered, surely we need to know whether it is taking place effectively
  • is there good follow-up to those who have had to endure the trauma of abortion? There is a lot of evidence to suggest that abortion is simply not the sort of thing where you pop into the surgery one day in between the other events in your rather hectic life
  • do we know how many people have multiple abortions? And what that means for an individual, but also for social health.
Hmmmmm! yes these questions (and others) are rather hard. One might begin to see why it is easier not to ask them!

2 comments:

JahTeh said...

The feminists have pointed out that a D&C after a spontaneous abortion is included in those figures.
It's certainly not undertaken lightly by any woman but ultimately it has to be her decision. I would hate to have the days of coathanger backyard abortions return.

stephen clark said...

I agree by and large that no one wants the return of the coathanger days. I am interested about the point of what the figures actally mean ...this is a new piece of information for me, and I guess rather makes the point that we are not very open about what the statistics really mean..even when we know that they are pretty hotch potch as well