The Australian September 15, 2007
WOMEN seeking abortions should undergo a compulsory cooling-off period before proceeding, according to 74 per cent of respondents to a new survey. And more than half thought doctors should show the stage of fetal development to patients using models, pictures or ultrasound before a decision is made.
The findings come from privately funded studies conducted from 2004 to 2006 by the Sexton Marketing Group and published in a new book, Common Ground, subtitled “Seeking an Australian consensus on abortion and sex education”.The book, edited by the president of the Catholic Campion College in Sydney, John Fleming, and bioethicist Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, argues that the debate over abortion, embryonic stem cell research and the abortion drug RU486 does not reflect the feelings in the community.
“Their attitudes to abortion are far more complex and nuanced,” Dr Fleming said. “Really, the need is for a change in social policy, not to make abortion more or less difficult.” He said Australians were both pro-choice and anti-abortion. One survey, conducted across a sample of 1200 people, found that although 83 per cent supported a woman’s right to choose an abortion, 88per cent agreed it would be good to reduce the current rate.
So although tighter abortion laws were comprehensively rejected, participants were concerned to learn there were up to 90,000 abortions a year. Sixty-two per cent said women should have to go through a counselling service, to ensure they were aware of the alternatives to abortion, but there was consensus that counselling should be non-directive. Of those who wanted a cooling-off period before an abortion could be performed, 59 per cent said it should be at least seven days.