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Tony Abbott right to express concern about abortion - 18 March 2004

Spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, Mary Joseph, has welcomed Health Minister Tony Abbott's expression of concern about the loss of thousands of Australia's unborn children every year. Mr Abbott spoke about the issue on Tuesday at Adelaide University.

"Tony Abbott is right. The prevalence of abortion is a sign that our community is failing to provide realistic alternatives for women," Ms Joseph said.

"The problem of abortion calls for a whole-of-government approach to preventative strategies both to reduce the incidence of unplanned pregnancies and to reduce the barriers facing women who want to continue their pregnancies.

"Research shows that many women seeking abortions do so either because they believe they cannot afford a child, because they do not believe they can continue their studies while pregnant or once they have a child, or because they feel a child cannot be accommodated within their career.

"Many women are also pressured into abortion by their partners or families. As a society we need to encourage men to respect and care for pregnant women and embrace the responsibilities of fatherhood.

"These are pointers to where work is necessary to address the social tragedy of abortion.

"The issues of pregnancy discrimination in work and of paid maternity leave have received some attention in public debate, but are still to be resolved. Addressing the educational needs of young women who are pregnant is another obvious area demanding attention.

"No woman should go without her education because she has chosen to give birth to her child. A national program could help to address the very special needs of women in this situation.

"Many women have a lack of real choice when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. We need to remove the structural barriers in society which lead women to think of abortion as their only option."

Contact:    Mary Joseph, spokesperson for the Australian Federation of Right to Life Associations, telephone 02 6253 3100