The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

News.com.au Want To Show You What They Think A Late-Term Abortion Looks Like

Posted by Clem Bastow on August 27, 2008

My initial instinct was to title this piece “WHAT THE F-CK, NEWS.COM.AU”, because for the first five minutes after reading the piece, my level of rage meant I found it hard to come up with anything more eloquent than that. However, instead I would like their “work” to speak for itself.

They have run a piece from the Herald Sun (who had better hope this little bit of photo editing only appeared online) today about a “legal loophole” that means women could theoretically still receive the baby bonus if they had a late-term abortion. More on that in a tic, but let’s just marvel at the gobsmacking insensitivity and idiocy of the news.com.au photo team, shall we?

No explanation is given for the choice of the photo, which pictures a preserved foetus in, I assume, an anatomical museum, being gazed at by a young-ish child.

Just a warning, you may find the image disturbing.

Again, there is absolutely no explanation given for the use of the image, which also appears as a front-page “pull” item:

The article itself discusses an apparent loophole that means a woman could, in theory, still receive the baby bonus if she were to have a late-term abortion due to foetal abnormalities.

The loophole arises because abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation are recorded by doctors as stillbirths. Parents of stillborn babies receive the maternity benefit on compassionate grounds.

The Federal Parliamentary Library, which examined the issue for Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, confirmed the anomaly. Senator Bernardi said: “This is not a debate about abortion. This is about the baby bonus being misused and misapplied to women who do have terminations.

“Clearly that is not the intention, it’s not in keeping with the support of mainstream Australians for the baby bonus.”

National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists chairman Andrew Pesce said there was no legal difference between stillbirths and abortions after 20 weeks. Dr Pesce said most late-term abortions were prompted by fetal abnormalities.

When it came to women who had a late-term abortion, he said: “I think it is a very humane gesture from society to say, ‘You are going through enough already, we’re not going to withhold the bonus’.”

The Government – specifically, Jenny Macklin – denied that the bonus would still be available to women and couples who had undergone a late-term abortion.

I realise that the Herald Sun and its News Ltd ilk are not above fearmongering and creating outrage where it isn’t due, but these pictures take the cake (and apart from anything else, it’s extremely insensitive to those women who have had to undergo late-term abortions). They’re not only completely irrelevant, they are one step away from the placards and posters carried by extreme pro-lifers. The Hun may be a right-leaning paper, but surely this is taking its not-so-hidden agenda too far.

If you are as offended by the photos as I am, get in touch with the Herald Sun/news.com.au online team here.

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6 Responses to “News.com.au Want To Show You What They Think A Late-Term Abortion Looks Like”

  1. Scal said

    I’m not offended by the photo. But I think that any woman who has a late-term abortion – bearing in mind that they’re only available on the recommendation of two medical practitioners – ought to be given the bonus. It would be just as traumatic as a still birth.

  2. tina_sparkle said

    well, as if I needed any more proof that news.com.au is staffed solely by men.

    scal, do women who have stillbirths get the baby bonus? if not, why should they get it for a late-term abortion?

    I challenge the idea that a late term abortion is ‘more traumatic’ for women opposed to an early term one. it’s like telling someone how to grieve. we all experience these things differently and the impact of each individual’s experience is equally valid.

  3. Leah said

    tina_sparkle, I think in the article it did say that women who have stillbirths get the baby bonus.

    I think the whole baby bonus should be scrapped, it’s a ridiculous grant. As if a couple of thousand dollars is going to make having a baby so much more affordable – and it should at the very least be means-tested to target those who might actually need it more.

    I suspect some people might ask, ‘What about low income parents who really need the bonus?’ To those I say – read on:

    The goverment should keep the money and put it into improving child care, public hospitals and public schools, and creating a national paid parental leave scheme, things that would really help parents, especially those on low incomes.

  4. Scal said

    Tina, the first paragraph of the extracted passage states that the mothers of stillborn babies get the bonus.

    I’m not comparing early abortions to late abortions, so there’s no need to “challenge” that idea. I’m comparing late term abortions to stillbirths, as is warranted if you read the article.

    Late-term abortions are so rarely available; recipients usually will have been intending to carry the baby to full term, but either suffering a psychological trauma or discover the baby has serious mental or physical defects.

    Since the mothers of stillborn babies get the bonus on “humane” grounds, women who find themselves in a serious enough predicament to warrant a late-term abortion should also get the bonus.

  5. tina_sparkle said

    scal, I wasn’t challenging anything you were saying per se, just the idea that some people think abortions at different stages of a pregnancy may be more or less traumatic than others. that perception is out there.

    I too agree that women who have late term abortions should be eligible for the baby bonus. why the difference between that and a stillbirth?

    leah, I too agree with scrapping the baby bonus. it’s no substitute for paid maternity leave.

  6. […] bill – ”There’s blood on your hands, John Brumby … what about the babies?” And The Dawn Chorus spots a news media site doubling as a right-to-life […]

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