The Senate is currently holding an inquiry into Senator Natasha Stott Despoja’s bill, which, if passed, would have a devastating effect on pregnancy counselling services, writes Charles Francis QC.
Senator Natasha Stott Despoja’s private member’s bill, entitled Transparent Advertising & Notification of Pregnancy Counselling Services Bill 2005, appears designed to deter women from going to pro-life pregnancy counselling services by requiring those services to publicly advertise specifically that they don’t refer women for abortion.
Such advertising would be costly. A failure to so advertise can incur a fine of $220,000 (or $1,000,000 if the service is incorporated). Stott Despoja obviously wants all pregnancy counselling services to include the option of referring for abortion. Such an option would of course be quite contrary to the aims and ethos of any pro-life counselling service.
It also appears that the requirements of the senator’s bill, in so far as it seeks to deal with those who provide counselling services free, are beyond the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth and are a matter for the states only.
Breast cancer and infertility
In her article, “Telling the truth on pregnancy” (Melbourne Herald Sun, July 18, 2006), Senator Stott Despoja refers to her private member’s bill on Transparent Advertising & Notification of Pregnancy Counselling Services, and complains that pregnancy counselling services tell women of their increased risk of breast cancer, infertility and psychological trauma following abortion. I gave evidence to the Senate inquiry on this bill.
As a result of acting in cases on behalf of women damaged by abortion, I learned it is always very bad advice to refer any woman for an abortion because there are so many medical risks. In 1997, I acted for “Ellen” who suffered very significant psychiatric problems following an abortion.
At the time it was already well known that abortion could cause psychiatric problems, but “Ellen” was never warned. The Australian High Court found in Rogers v. Whitaker that before any operation, the doctor has an express duty to warn of any material risk. “Ellen” sued on the basis of failure to warn and her case was settled out of court (Herald Sun, September 29, 1998). In a similar case in NSW, “Cynthia” won a settlement for $200,000 for psychological damage following abortion.
Following “Ellen’s” case, I was asked to act for, or advise, a number of women in relation to psychological problems resulting from abortions. I came to know these women personally and realised how dysfunctional they can be. One woman was still highly dysfunctional three years after the abortion, with no indication she would ever be able to work again.
In May 2000, I acted for “Meg”, who sued on the basis that the abortionist did not warn her of psychiatric problems and also her increased risk of breast cancer. In 2001 her case was settled and, although it received no publicity in Australia, it was publicised in the United Kingdom and the United States. A further Australian case was settled in March 2002.
A case in Pennsylvania was also successfully settled; but far more significant was a case brought to trial in 2005 in Oregon, USA, against All Women’s Health Services, an abortion clinic in Portland, Oregon.
In January 2005, the clinic, conceding there was a link between abortion and breast cancer and that it had failed to warn the plaintiff, agreed to a judgment against it for damages. Jonathan Clark, attorney for the 19-year-old plaintiff, says he believes the judgment “makes a pretty powerful statement about the science, indicating the clinic was not willing to argue against the claim that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer”.
It has taken the World Health Organization decades to warn that the contraceptive pill is a Class 1 carcinogen, in the same category as tobacco and asbestos, and no doubt it may take decades for WHO, wedded to the ideology of population control, to acknowledge the link between abortion and breast cancer.
However, women need the truth now, and especially on facts about which there is no scientific dispute: that the younger a woman is when she has her first full-term pregnancy, the lower her risk of breast cancer. Conversely, women who have no children, or only have children after age 30, are at increased risk.
One wonders why our Cancer Councils have not used the high-profile case of a celebrity who had breast cancer, to advise women to give priority to having babies over career, especially when breast cancer is the major killer of pre-menopausal women, and the third major cause of death in post-menopausal women.
There was a 40 per cent increase in the incidence of breast cancer between 1987 and 1997, 28 to 38 years after the de facto legalisation of abortion following the Menhennitt and Levine rulings in Victoria and NSW.
There is no space to cite all the studies linking abortion with infertility, but there are many well-known cases, such as that of Germaine Greer.
In my view, pregnancy counselling services would be derelict in their duty if they did not warn women of their increased risk of breast cancer, infertility and psychological trauma following abortion.
- Charles Francis AM, QC, is honorary legal adviser to Endeavour Forum Inc.