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Dangerous remedies: ending the horror of backyard abortions

When Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke out against sexism and misogyny in the parliament last month, her words had resonance far beyond the political context of the moment. It was a reminder that women…

Anne Summers has spoken about her own experience with a backyard abortion. AAP Image/Luis Enrique Ascui

When Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke out against sexism and misogyny in the parliament last month, her words had resonance far beyond the political context of the moment.

It was a reminder that women suffer injustices, and too often silently. In Australia, those injustices are often seen as first world problems that are political and economic, and less commonly, life threatening.

This is not always true, and it certainly was not true in the 1960s. While this revolutionary decade saw the advancement of some women’s rights, it remained a dangerous time for women. Simple acts like engaging in sex could cost a woman her life. But, out of shame, these deaths were kept out of view. No Australian drama captures this better than the ABC’s Dangerous Remedy, which airs on the public broadcaster on Sunday night.

It is a telemovie about power, corruption and abortion, and the grave toll it has taken on women. It has caught my attention for several reasons. It brutally shows the trajectory that Australian women have travelled in the quest for equality. It is a story that touches on the heart of my research about what meaningful print investigative journalism can achieve in society, and it is poignant, local story-telling.

Set in Melbourne, the opening scene is of a young, single woman waiting haplessly for a car to arrive to take her to an unknown destination. She is trusting that they, whoever they are, will fix her most intimate problem, an unwanted pregnancy. She waits nervously on the roadside in a socio-political climate that renders her a social pariah if her secret were disclosed; and if not, as a law-breaker in her efforts to rid herself of a physical, economic and social burden.

What happens next is something worse than either of these dilemmas. She is bundled into a car, blindfolded and taken to a dirty, makeshift infirmary. Perhaps more confronting for the audience is that this might be dramatised, but it is not fiction.

Someone who knows its reality is Dr Anne Summers, an author and journalist, and former Keating government advisor heading the Office of the Status of Women. After watching a preview copy she wrote to her Facebook followers of her own experience with backyard abortion:

I am so glad the story of this awful era is finally being told. I had the same experience as the girl in the opening scene, being butchered by a backyard operator in Melbourne in the 1960s, being blindfolded before being driven to the suburban house where the abortion was performed. The only difference was that I did not die, because I was lucky enough to get professional medical help in time.

It is incredible to think that it is only 40 years since the Victoria police controlled abortion in that state (the same happened in NSW) and desperate women, especially those who did not have the money for the qualified doctors operating out of private hospitals, risked their lives to end unwanted pregnancies.

Unfortunately, Summers' story is not unique. Researchers suggest as many as one in four Australian women have experienced abortion. And, because of the efforts of “Dangerous Remedies” protagonist Dr Bertram Wainer, women’s experiences in Victoria are now legal and no longer involve the horror of makeshift clinics.

Today, women’s experiences of pregnancy termination are safer, but are they less traumatic? I don’t know. I do know from reading the scores of responses to Summers' on Facebook that there is still a social stigma attached.

I also know that when I was a nurse, I emotionally supported friends, and more than once walked with them past protestors outside a termination clinic. It was threatening and intimidating. Abortion is a difficult decision without the pressure of strangers, some whose intentions are malevolent. In 2001, Steven Rogers lost his life working as a security guard protecting women entering such clinics.

In the 1960s, Wainer was a courageous man who raised allegations of a police protection racket involving a group of Victorian abortionists. For a fee, police would not pursue doctors and backyard abortionists who performed illegal abortions.

The media also played an important role during this time. My research about investigative journalism introduced me to the work of journalist Evan Whitton. He is barely mentioned in the telemovie, but he is also a courageous fellow, who demonstrated what investigative journalism could do well: holding those with power to account.

Whitton seized on Wainer’s allegation, publishing details of six sworn affidavits alleging police extortion in Melbourne’s Truth newspaper, in a story called “The Ugly Cloud”. The revelations led to a government board of inquiry chaired by Melbourne silk Bill Kaye. Jack Ford, Jack Matthews and Martin Jacobson of the homicide squad were jailed. Wainer’s dedicated campaign led to law reform, and Whitton earned his second of five Walkley awards exposing the injustices.

Researching this story, Whitton told me: “The task was made easier by the failure of other organs of the media to turn up during Dr Wainer’s campaign to show that bad laws made bad cops”, he said. “Police roundsmen tend to be prisoners of the source. I suspect editors made the error of believing them when they said Dr Wainer was mad and bad and there was nothing in the police corruption story”.

How wrong they were.

Join the conversation

60 Comments sorted by

  1. Kirsten Lambert

    logged in via Facebook

    An excellent article. Given that a young woman and her partner were charged with trying to procure an abortion in QLD only a couple of years ago, the battle is far from won. Thankfully they were let off and were spared the 7 year gaol term. One Republican senator in the States was quoted as saying he didn't believe a woman could get pregnant from a 'legitimate rape' so there was never any excuse for abortion. We're not quite out of the dark ages yet.

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    1. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Kirsten Lambert

      Constant vigilance still required for women to exercise their right to their bodies and their futures.

      Even people not necessarily opposed to abortion per se, still oppose government assistance with cost. Should these people have their beliefs enacted in government policy, this would result in (yet again) only the wealthy being able to afford abortions.

      Another myopic view is that abortion is a women's only issue. Unwanted pregnancy affects us all from direct impact on a girl or woman's life and her family. Just as any traumatic event has a ripple effect throughout society so too does access to safe affordable contraception and abortion if contraception fails.

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    2. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Kirsten Lambert

      There are some questions regards how many women actually died from so-called “backyard abortions”

      From “Confessions of an ex-abortionist” by Dr. Bernard Nathanson

      “We aroused enough sympathy to sell our program of permissive abortion by fabricating the number of illegal abortions done annually in the U.S. The actual figure was approaching 100,000 but the figure we gave to the media repeatedly was 1,000,000. Repeating the big lie often enough convinces the public. The number of women dying from…

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    3. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      What is your point, Dale?

      Maybe only 250 deaths per year (apart from those who survived sepsis and got scarring, chronic pain, ectopic pregnancy) were nothing?

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    4. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Yes, there is a big difference between 250 and 10,000.

      The point is, never immediately believe anything from a feminist or an abortionist.

      They are likely to tell you anything.

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    5. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Actually Dale you have a point. It was my research which led to the withdrawal and pulping of the 1996 NHMRC sponsored report on abortion. The authors were so ideologically blind that they did not realize they had misinterpreted the 1934 NHMRC report which was done because authorities were worried about the low birth rate. The 96 report found that currently one in three pregnancies were deliberately terminated and the 34 report had said a third ended in abortion so therefore the rate had not increased…

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    6. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Kirsten Lambert

      You forget that once again in Queensland a man got several years jail for causing his ex partner to abort by kicking her in the stomach in a spontaneous response to future child support payments. What is your view put forward by some US Men's groups that men should be able to have an abortion by telling the woman if she goes ahead with the pregnancy she is on her own financially and he has no further involvement exactly as if he had been a sperm donor? I think we all know women who have got pregnant against their partners wishes.

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    7. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to John Coochey

      Looking at the problem of unwanted pregnancies and abortion from a scientific viewpoint, there first has to be adequate and reliable data to be able to solve the problem, or see if a problem actually exists.

      So much of the data for unwanted pregnancies and abortion seems to be hidden or distorted, either for ideological reasons, or in the case of Dr Bernard Nathanson (when he ran the biggest abortion clinic in the world), the data was distorted for financial gain.

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    8. Dianna Arthur

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      @Sue Ieraci

      Apparently for men with attitudes towards women and girls, like Dale Bloom and John Coochey, not ENOUGH women have died or suffered complications from botched abortions.

      Fortunately the majority of adult men and women value all people's lives and potential and do not dismiss the death and injury of women due to unwanted pregnancy as unimportant. This attitude is as callous as it is completely hateful.

      Next we'll being hearing that pregnancies resulting from rape and/or incest are "gifts from god".

      Yes, folks we are in 21st C Australia and, yes, there are people who still wish to control what women do with their lives.

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    9. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Its disgusting isnt it, Mr Bloom is well known in these parts for looking for any excuse to exert his power over women. He is playing with numbers but doesnt realise that no matter what information he presents it will never result in him nor any other man dictating what women can and cannot do with their bodies.

      To be fair he thinks every featus is a human being.....medically he is wrong, scientificaly he is wrong, legally he is wrong but he jst cant seem to get over this fact.

      Hence he thinks his attempts to oppress women is liberating babies - this is what happens when you dont care whether your beliefs about the world are true or not

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    10. Michael Shand

      Software Tester

      In reply to John Coochey

      You seem to have a perspective problem

      " I think we all know women who have got pregnant against their partners wishes." - There has never ever been a women who has gotten pregnant without their partners involvement. - EVER

      You have a choice to wear a condom, vasectomy, pull out, have non penis in vagina, anal, mutual masturbation - you have all these options.

      If you still choose penis in vagina then you have to accept the consequences of those actions.

      To frame it as the women getting pregnent is disgusting and selfish - who got the women pregnent? it didnt happen by itself? presumably a man had some involvement and he is responsible for getting the women pregnant

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    11. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      Unfortunately the distortion is on both sides of this debate Dale & John. When a current politician was talking a few years ago about 100,000 (I seem to remember the number but haven't checked) Commonwealth funded abortions, that person was also referring to an undifferentiated statistic for a particular operation that was also used, among other reasons, post natural miscarriage to clear possible sources of infection. The question is whether we need or want to record all cases of this and many other things down to the nth detail - I know it makes for better data and better evidence for science (social and bio-medical), but whether that is useful or good is a judgement call open to contest.

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    12. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Michael Shand

      You deliberately miss my point. If a man signs up for sex why should that be twenty three years of child support payments when the woman can end the pregnancy if she wishes? These days she chooses to continue the pregnancy and many now choose single parent hood because it is a good little earner or certainly was prior to 2006 when the single mothers benefit ran till the youngest child was sixteen before it was work tested. As for the true value of single mother benefits (even without CSA payments) google the CIS paper

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    13. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Actually a correct reading of the NHMRC papers on abortion in 1934 and 1996 would suggest such numbers were minimal. You may also refer to the NZ experience in the late seventies when abortions were restricted. Maternal deaths did not actually increase but fell slightly.

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    14. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      I think you are mistaken, I still have one of he NHMRC papers on divorce (now a collectors item) and TOP is listed under Medicare as a separate item. Certainly the authors of the withdrawn paper used it.

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    15. Dania Ng

      Retired factory worker

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Is he ethically wrong as well? And what sort of science do you subscribe to? What do you find so threatening? Regardless of what you or others say, or how you try to twist the truth, the fact is that the life of a human being begins when the genetic code is in place to determine his/her physiological traits. This is scientific fact, see http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/474704/pregnancy or ask any embryologist. You are confusing the debate about life, and its beginning, to the debate about personhood. The latter is quite vacuous because it relies on particular ethics and the political and ideological perspectives at play, not science.

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    16. Dania Ng

      Retired factory worker

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      So he's not permitted to point out that the figures quoted by activists are wrong and misrepresent facts. This, it seems, automatically makes him a callous individual bent on oppressing women and telling you what to do with your body; and so, by extension, you are indicating that he obviously agrees with extremist views on abortion for rape victims? I am wondering who the extremist is here?

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    17. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      Of course now we have DNA tests although the fems are trying to ban them we do not run into the situation of a friend of mine who "fathered" two children after he had had a vasectomy. The vasectomy had not failed and I believe both pregnancies were terminated when the mothers realized they had not go lucky with a wealthy man who could not hide his assets.

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    18. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to John Coochey

      Corrigenda the paper was of course on abortion, and TOP data is available from medical stats.

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    19. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I repeat the question I asked elsewhere. If a woman tells her partner that she is using contraception and is not and she gets pregnant does he have any responsibility if she goes ahead with the pregnancy if after all " it is part of her body and hers to do with as she chooses?"

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    20. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to John Coochey

      John Coochey deliberately misses the point of this article.

      Prior to law reform, women risked their lives to have abortions. Their partners were frequently complicit in arranging the abortion - not because they wanted to harm the women but because neither of them wanted to be parents.

      IN the days before law reform, single parenthood was almost unheard of, termination meant risking your life, and still men and women had sex and women got pregnant. Better that the women don't have to risk their lives, and the couple isn't forced into a gunshot marriage, don't you think John Coochey?

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    21. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Michael Shand

      Michael Shand, I don't sense that Mr Bloom is exerting his power over women at all. On the contrary, he appears to feel powerless.

      Whatever situation has motivated his bitterness appears to leave him feeling impotent, not powerful.

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    22. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Well correct reading of both NHMRC reports suggest numbers were in fact extremely small but times have changed. If allowed healthy caucasian children would have a market value. Look at the tens of thousands of dollars people pay to adopt children from the third world. There are huge queues of potential adoptive parents. What used to be shameful "a single mother" is now almost a status symbol and certainly an excuse to avoid overtime paid or unpaid. We now have the single parents benefit and as I pointed out the NZ experience shows when abortions are restricted there is no increase in maternal deaths. The days when there were special boarding houses to house teenage girls until they gave birth to children who would be adopted are long since gone!

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    23. Dale Bloom

      Analyst

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      This is the type of report necessary in Australia

      “Data were compiled from the National Vital Statistics System and multiple surveys and surveillance systems that monitor sexual and reproductive health outcomes into a single reference report that makes this information more easily accessible to policy makers, researchers, and program providers who are working to improve the reproductive health of young persons in the United States. The report addresses three primary topics: 1) current levels of…

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    24. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to John Coochey

      Tell me about it John, there are a few husbands rearing clergyman's children, these days they don't terminate they cry sex-abuse.
      I quess thats as good as a wealthy man unable to hide their assets.

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    25. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      I feel for the women who years ago, were led to believe that the fetus was only a piece of flesh.
      I hope they can find solace that in the procedure itself, they were mislead and in a religious sense not accountable.
      Your "constant vigilance for women to exercise their right to their bodies and their futures", reminds me when my youngest daughter protested at the protesters when a colleague made the decision to exercise hers out side a said clinic decades ago, irrespective of her own views.
      The irony being, one "collective", has never spoken out against the soul destroying abuse by clergy of the same religious affiliation that survived the womb.

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    26. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Michael Shand

      We've been down this path already Michael. You can choose anal sex as your preferred mode if you wish, but in my view you may as well be having sex with a man.

      For the rest of us, pregnancy is a side-effect, not an intended consequence of the activity in most cases. If the side-effect occurs, then the man loses all right to self-determination, whilst the woman retains hers. This is an inequity that has no place in a society that has both the advantage of safe and effective contraception and abortion as a reasonable and safe medical procedure.As you prefer anal sex you obviously don't see this as an issue that affects you, which is fair enough, but frankly, I think your opinion in that case is about as relevant and useful as that of a blind person when discussing the use of perspective in a Michelangelo painting.

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    27. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to John Coochey

      I recall some years ago that my ex-wife who was not working, according to the statements given to the CSA had a taxable income of just over $14000, but an after-tax income of nearly $30,000, plus subsidised rent in Government housing. She would have had to have earnt close to $45000 in wages to have the same after-tax income.

      At the time, I was earning $40000 pre-tax, which translated to about $28500 after tax, from which I had to pay private rent and find around $4000 to give to her in child support, as well as feed and clothe the children when they were with me, which was, at the time, 5 days a fortnight.

      It's clear that single parenthood is not a disincentive, at least financially, and as I understand it, the funding for single parents is now more generous than it was then, with a single parent of one child who doesn't work or collect any child support having an income of around $30,000, plus whatever subsidised rent they can wangle.

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    28. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dania Ng

      I don't think there's any need to wonder, Dania...

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    29. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to account deleted

      Sorry, I should have said she "was working part-time". Apologies for the confusion.

      I was,of course, not regarded as a "single parent", but simply as a "child support payer"...

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    30. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to account deleted

      Craig, you appear to have had a struggle, an unjust one at that.
      One thing I will say to you, you have done your duty as a father, and been an example to your children.
      As things improved as I'm sure they have, the consolation in doing so will outweigh the negatives and being worthy of being called "dad",

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    31. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      Hi Lynne, thanks for the kind words, but I was simply pointing out that the way the system is structured provides a financial incentive for some women to proceed with an "accidental" pregnancy, whilst creating poor outcomes for the father, who is left with a lengthy period of indebtedness.

      This may not be as true for women who have a professional career, since their potential earnings are obviously significantly higher than the income available to non-working single mothers, but for women who…

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  2. Dania Ng

    Retired factory worker

    There is no doubt that women have suffered enormously because of lack of proper legal recognition and protection of their right to their bodies, including whether to have abortions. The women's right movement and other civil rights activists, and also most men, have much to be commended on in this. It is, however, disappointing to see this right now being equated with an ideology of 'anything goes', and to see those in society who are concerned with the protection of unborn babies portrayed as bigots…

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    1. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Dania Ng

      "What is it that they are actually advocating?"

      This article is about the end of the era of the "backyard abortion", when women had to risk their lives and both parents and practitioners had to conspire against the law if they weren't ready for parenthood. The alternative was that a couple had a "gunshot" wedding and may have had a good life together, or a miserable one. Or, the mother was whisked away to have the baby, which was given away - often against the mother's wishes, with the family…

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    2. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      No you should read more carefully. We have been told by a Government funded body the NHMRC that a third of women in the nineteen thirties were having abortions. This is not true. We are also told that before liberalization of the abortion laws women were dying from back yard abortions, possibly true because the it was shameful to have a child out of wedlock, no longer true, ask Penny Wong. Prior to the Whitlam era there was no taxpayer assistance to single mothers no longer true, there was also a shortage of adoptive parents and no open adoptions. Yet again no longer the case.

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    3. Dania Ng

      Retired factory worker

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Sue, I was wondering how long you'll take before throwing misleading and hateful comments at me (as in other past threads I contributed to) - it seems to be your chosen mode of communication with those whom you disagree with. I maintain that women can be wise and responsible, when they have all the information they need to make an informed decision with - that's been my experience, having worked with thousands of women, from all sorts of cultures, and of all ages. But when important information is…

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    4. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dania Ng

      Dania, I disagree with the central plank of your argument - that the foetus is a "baby". It is at best a baby in potentio, if all sorts of things fail to happen it will eventually become a baby and then if all sorts of things fail to happen it will eventually become a person capable of independent thought.

      The mother's body is best seen as an incubator that can allow such development but that could be switched off or emptied at any time.

      The vast majority of fertilisations do not result in viably implanted embryos and those that simply leave with the shedding of the latest layer of uterine endometrium are not mourned as babies. There is no class difference between them and the ones that are deliberately removed. I think it is a flawed and emotive argument that you are presenting, designed to play on the hormonally heightened emotional state of women with a newly-implanted foetus.

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    5. Dania Ng

      Retired factory worker

      In reply to account deleted

      Tell this to the thousands of women who are suffering because of the guilt they feel, some even decades after their abortions. Do you know what they always (and I mean ALWAYS) say? They say, "I killed my BABY". So it is not my 'emotive' argument, and it is not my 'design' to play on the emotional state of women - it is the voice of these women which I am talking about. Hence, it is why I referred to this as the 'other voice', the voice we seldom hear in this debate, and which is often denigrated…

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    6. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Dania Ng

      Dania, it doesn't help to have their noses rubbed into it and referring to the slaughter of animals as an example which leaves a lot to be desired.
      There are many children and grandchild heading into the age of consent, to be sexually active or not, and you don't think they would tell their mothers what they don't want them to know do you?
      We need to tread a lightly I think.

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    7. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dania Ng

      Dania, if I read your comment right, you are saying that because some women feel future remorse at having had an abortion, we should go out of our way to implant all candidates for an abortion with the seeds for such a sense of remorse.

      I'm sorry, but I'm afraid that doesn't make any kind of sense to me.

      People do all sorts of things which haunt them through their lives. It's the nature of being human. Some of the things that people regret are far from obviously subjects for regret to others…

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    8. Dania Ng

      Retired factory worker

      In reply to account deleted

      I think you misunderstand the whole point of what I said. I mean that many women that are advise to have an abortion get to be informed by one perspective only. Those who are pro-life are demonised, belittled, dismissed as religious nuts. But is this a reason that we should we not tell women that there is a risk of long term psychological harm associated with abortion, which plainly many women suffer from even many years after their abortions? Who gives the pro-abortionists the right to think they…

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    9. account deleted

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dania Ng

      Dania, do women who oppose abortion for some reason of principle actually have abortions that are not essential for the preservation of their own life? It seems unlikely, unless they choose short-term expedience over their principles, which would make regret and remorse all the more likely to ensue, surely?

      I don't dispute that some women feel regret after having done so, whether they hold such principles or not, I simply regard such regrets as a part of life, a part of our common experience…

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    10. Dania Ng

      Retired factory worker

      In reply to account deleted

      Craig, I think that we are probably on common ground here on a couple of things. But I feel we are also talking about different things, in regards to another couple. As I said before, I think women should be allowed to make their own decisions in respect to abortions - and I respect such decisions even if I fervently disagree with some. Of course the issue is not clear-cut, and there are so many factors entering into this. I emphasised strongly that many women have not been fully informed about consequences…

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  3. Evan Whitton

    Legal historian

    Thank you, Andrea, for the kind words.
    Extorting Homicide cops and abortion, front yard and back, were realities in Melbourne in the late 1960s, but Dangerous Remedy is unfortunately largely a fairy tale. The backyard aborter, Charlie Wyatt, who was largely responsible for forcing a Board of Inquiry into the bent cops, is not even mentioned.

    Gideon Haigh’s The Racket is an accurate account of what really happened. Long chapters in my book, Amazing Scenes, have details, some quite hilarious…

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  4. Gregory James Byrne

    Retired

    I can't understand how anyone could thoroughly research this topic without asking whether or not the unborn child has any rights at all? Let's say a person is going to research "backyard abortion". Women's rights are a definite issue I grant you that. But before going any further the researcher should ask "Why are there backyard abortions and why is abortion illegal?" To answer that question the person would necessarily come up against the issue of the rights of the unborn child. One could say that…

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  5. Evan Whitton

    Legal historian

    Abortion is the lesser of two evils. It was legal since the 1938 English case of R v Bourne cf. Gideon Haigh’s magisterial work, The Racket, pp 40-45.

    However, it suited extorters in the Homicide Squad and hypocrites like Deputy Premier Sir Arthur Rylah to pretend it was not legal.

    It may also be noted that Rylah was indebted to elements of the Homicide Squad because they did not charge him in connection with the death of his wife.

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    1. Gregory James Byrne

      Retired

      In reply to Evan Whitton

      Abortion is the lesser of two evils? What is worse than deliberately killing an innocent human being i.e. the unborn child. You are going down the same road as the Southerners of the US in not recognising the blacks as human beings. The same could be said about the Jews that Hitler killed. It's a very slippery slope Evan. It's very easy to take that slope. Can you remember the 1996 election when the Australian Democrats shunned the Greens led by Professor Singer because of his views on infanticide. Singer questioned the sincerity of these people who had very liberal views on abortion and asked if there is any real difference between abortion and infanticide. Singer was right about this. Respect for human life is indivisible. You either respect it or you don't. The Third Reich is an example of what happens when you don't. Frank Knopflemacher said that killing the Jews was the one thing on which the rest of Europe agreed with Hitler on.

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  6. Babette Francis

    Coordinator of Endeavour Forum

    In the discussion about "Dangerous Remedy" almost completely overlooked by Anne Summers and most of the commentators is what occurs in abortions, both legal and illegal, and that is the killing of an unborn baby. While I was reading a review of "Dangerous Remedy" I was also watching the Four Corners program on the recent disaster of the live sheep exported to the Middle East and how cruelly they were eventually slaughtered. Why is there no mention of the unborn baby - fetus if you prefer…

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    1. Gregory James Byrne

      Retired

      In reply to Babette Francis

      Well if Bert Wainer says that it is murder then there is no doubt about it surely? Murder is murder. As far as I am concerned all murders are wrong. If Australia is a civilised country then ALL murder should be forbidden. What did those parliamentarians think that they were doing in passing the Abortion Bill 2008 other than legalising murder?

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    2. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Gregory James Byrne

      Greg, it's an interesting point you made, all murders being wrong.
      These days, the psychological aspect is taken into account in a court of law it and would apply to terminations.
      Even for Catholics it can be forgiven as having an "unsound mind" at the time.
      For those who verbally accost and make judgements need to think twice especially if Catholic.

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    3. Dania Ng

      Retired factory worker

      In reply to Babette Francis

      Thanks Babette, a post which illuminates much of this discussion.

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    4. Gregory James Byrne

      Retired

      In reply to Lynne Newington

      Bert Wainer said that abortion is murder. Either it is murder or it isn't. The psychological aspects have nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of it. Let us remain clear about what is right or wrong. Let us avoid mental gymnastics. The Nazis tried to convince people that killing Jews was not wrong because the were not human. Look where that led them--to total destruction of their cities and the partition of their country. Remember the civil war in Yugoslavia about 20 years ago. Maybe if Yugoslavia had had 40 years of abortion it was not so surprising that the Serbs could practice "ethnic cleansing" which is a polite term for mass murder. LET US BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT WHAT IS RIGHT OR WRONG. LET US NEVER PRETEND THAT SOMETHING THAT IS WRONG IS RIGHT OR EVEN "EXCUSABLE" IN SOME CIRCUMSTANCES. KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE IS NEVER RIGHT.

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    5. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Gregory James Byrne

      Mentioning Yugoslavia twenty years ago, your right, horrendous war atrocities were carried out there, raping of women and children etc.
      If my memory serves me well, that's where we as Cathilics were told Mary was making daily appearances and miracles galore.

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  7. Lynne Newington

    Researcher

    It's wonderful to see the co-ordinator of the Endeavour Forum , with United Nations affiliations weighing in on this conversation.
    You may like to check into Judy Courtin's, she could do with a voice to, especially one with your contacts and creditations.

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  8. John Coochey

    Mr

    I have just had a thought about Ann Summers abortion which features at the head of the article. In the lack of more prestigious sources I looked at Wikipedia which gave the following info
    "she arranged an expensive abortion in Melbourne which was incomplete. She returned to her GP in Adelaide and was referred to an Adelaide gynaecologist to complete the abortion safely"
    So it looks like she actually got help from a gynaecologist so why did she not go to him originally? Or perhaps she did. Also thought that by 1995 abortion in Victoria had been liberalized. As a lady once said "please explain".

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  9. wilma western

    logged in via email @bigpond.com

    It's clearly not true that all women who've had abortions believe they've "killed" their baby-- it's likely to be only a small proportion, but whatever the proportion, abortion is a serious and emotional decision for women. Those who believe in the sacredness of (human,potential) life have to explain why so many fertilised eggs in the natural course of events don't result in a successful pregnancy . The same people who campaign so determinedly against abortion often believe contraception is also a sin.

    These days we need more journalists like Evan Whitton. What commentators so far have not confronted is the the undermining of law and civil order, also of democratic principles ,when you have the sort of serious police corruption that Wainer and those working with him revealed.

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    1. Dania Ng

      Retired factory worker

      In reply to wilma western

      But many do think in such terms, wilma; and in my experience it isn't a minority. Also in my experience, many women hide their feelings of loss, and many are intimidated by the pressures placed on them to conform to the kind of cold rationalisations about how they should feel, and how they should think about their aborted babies. These women, I feel, have been silenced, they are not permitted a voice in this debate. I see this as further discrimination, further harm inflicted upon them by a callous…

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    2. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Dania Ng

      I note with interest your reference to co-existing with Catholics rather than irrational ideological fringe groups.....and the inability of getting out of your mind, the image of a living little being......, yet many Catholics sat on the side bench unable to find their voice when it became common knowledge, children of
      their sisters in religion who had made it from the womb, were being unmercifully brutalized by their clergy, (one recorded as young as four years old) dozens now resting in their grave.

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  10. David Hamer

    student

    I have recently been having this discussion with some uni friends and I would be very interested to hear the opinions of a wider range of people.

    We are talking about the advent of choice. Having reached the conclusion that in a modern society choice is crucial to women we aked what choices are their for men?

    The topic of much heated debate was "should a man be able to opt out of child support if he informs the woman within the period of legal abortion?"

    ie women should be able to choose to be mothers, therefore in pursuit of equality shouldnt men have the choice to be fathers?

    I know this is not directly relevant to the article but I believe that it is an interesting area for debate and comment and this is the best article I can find.

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