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Real Choices? It’s all about incrementalism and shame

October 8, 2012

Pro-life (anti-choice) activists in Australia are excited.  They can see successful movements against reproductive rights in the USA and are looking to import the laws and tactics and implement them here.

Recently two American lawyers toured Australia to promote campaigning methods to restrict access to abortion.

“Nikolas T. Nikas and Dorinda C. Bordlee, president and vice-president respectively of the US-based pro-life legal organisation Bioethics Defense Fund (BDF), played a key role in framing a unique law, passed last year in the state of Louisiana, which is designed both to save the unborn and to protect women’s health.”

They have clearly found fans in Australia with their “pro-woman, pro-life” strategy.  One of Australia’s most prominent anti-choice campaigners is Debbie Garrett and she has taken to repeating their advice almost word for word.

The idea of waiting periods is meant to appear reasonable.  Who would want such a decision to be rushed?

And there in lays the problem of legislating for waiting periods.  It assumes that such decisions are rushed.  It assumes that women have not already thought through their decision or sought advice.

How is that “pro-woman”?

Waiting periods are for the purchase of a house or a car – not a woman’s reproduction.

Anti-choicers demand women must receive counselling before an abortion and that it should be legislated.  Yes forcing women into counselling, assuming they have not already thought through their decision or sought advice.

The reality is that Debbie Garratt advocates for the legislation of waiting periods hoping that women will be guilted and shamed to change her mind.  She knows that the stigma of abortion works in her favour, which she pushes through her counselling practices.

Yet she describes herself as a feminist.

How is this pro-woman? No feminist would assume that a women had not already thought through their decision or sought advice.

It doesn’t end there of course.

“Nikas and Bordlee stressed they would both like to see no more abortions, but incrementalism is a justifiable strategy so long as pro-life activists are committed to moving forward.”

Debbie Garratt has been listening.

Make no mistake.  The bigger battle Debbie Garratt refers to is recriminalising abortion. However she is willing to make accessing pregnancy termination harder for women through incrementalism.

Advised “that it is better not to rely on religious-based arguments when arguing the pro-life cause in the secular world” it doesn’t take long to see that most anti-choicers are indeed campaigning from personal religious perspectives, as Debbie demonstrates above.  They are entitled to live their own lives according to their faith, but they are not entitled to impose their religious beliefs upon others.  These religious beliefs are also at the core of the stigma of abortion.

Through her organisation Real Choices Australia Debbie Garratt and others seek to perpetuate the stigma of abortion. They seek to present a veneer of “professional credibility” even though their counsellors “do not need to have any experience or qualifications” only a “concern about the negative impact of abortion”  and “abide by the RCA Code of Ethics” even though no such code is published on their website.

Real Choices Australia publishes
Through this site Debbie Garratt and others exploit women who experience regret about a terminated pregnancy.  Regret is a very human emotion and understandable.  Women with regrets need our understanding and compassion.  They need professional counselling. Not counselling from those with no experience or qualifications.

Australian women demand better than faux counselling and faux compassion. Sadly they won’t receive that from those who offer “real choices.”

Australian women demand laws that respect the autonomy of their bodies.    Australian women know that a choice of completing a pregnancy or completing a pregnancy is not a real choice.

Abortion is a fact of life. It should be recognised as such. Australian women should be allowed to live without the stigma of abortion, without guilt and shame for exercising choice over their reproduction.


  1. sboom permalink

    This would have been worth a lot more if you had actually engaged what ‘stigma’ is and why is it there. This is a shallow pointless analysis. Stigma is a word to hide behind; the reality is a human life is being taken and guilt is being felt by the woman who aborted it.

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