by Ross Sharp

There is no debate

AUSTRALIANS in general, and Queenslanders in particular, hold liberal views on abortion, yet politicians’ fear of small religious minorities appears to have stymied decriminalisation of the procedure in some states, a study shows.

The debate is over.

A clear majority of Australians – 57 per cent – support women’s right to obtain an abortion “readily when they want one”. One-third supports abortion “in special circumstances”, and only 4 per cent opposes abortion outright. The findings, from the Australian Election Study, are based on polling 1873 electors at the 2007 federal election. They reveal how Australians’ attitudes have become much more liberal since the same questions were put to voters 20 years earlier, when only 38 per cent agreed with women’s unfettered right to abortion.

The debate is done.

Queenslanders are even more pro-choice than Australians as a whole, and the residents of Brisbane, with 63 per cent support for unrestricted access to abortion, the most liberal in the country.

There is no debate.

A Queensland Labor MP told journalists: “Liberalising abortion laws is not a vote-winner, it’s actually a vote loser, and everyone on both sides of politics knows that.”

The debate is over.

But the author of the study, Katharine Betts, an adjunct associate professor of sociology at Swinburne University, said the politician was wrong.

The debate is done.

“Abortion is one of those issues that doesn’t fit neatly into a left versus right continuum, and politicians feel it’s dangerous to try to change the status quo in the face of a very vocal anti-choice lobby. But they’re wrong. Voters are more likely to vote for a pro-choice candidate than an anti-choice candidate.”


The closing date of the petition to decriminalise abortion in Queensland is 23/10/09. Queensland residents only.