Alarming ad comes under fire from women's health provider

A LEADING women’s health provider is condemning the message portrayed in a Right To Life Australia advertising campaign.

An advertisement featuring an image of a baby and the slogan ‘Vote Chesters Last’ was published in the Bendigo Weekly last week.

The advertisement was authorised by The Right To Life Australia president Margaret Tighe and features text including “Every abortion kills a baby”.

It makes reference to ALP candidate for the federal seat of Bendigo Lisa Chesters and states, “EMILY’s List is a section of the ALP which works to elect women to parliament”.

Women’s Health Loddon Mallee executive officer Linda Beilharz yesterday described the advertisement as “alarming”.

“The advertisement is misleading and does great injustice to the real issues around pregnancy, abortion, choice for women and the health of families in our community,” Ms Beilharz said.

“Abortion Law is set at a state government level. In October 2008 the Victorian Abortion Law Reform Act brought abortion law in line with existing clinical practice and community attitudes. 

“Community attitudes were ascertained by the Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research. According to their Australian Survey of Social Attitudes conducted in 2003, just prior to the law reform process, the survey found that 81.2 per cent  of Australians agree that women should have the right to choose an abortion. 

“This was independent of their gender or religious affiliation.”

Ms Beilharz said the advertisement was not reflective of community attitudes.

“It is alarming,” she said.

“What it does is introduce a fear factor and a moral judgement factor that is really misplaced.

“And yes, it does compound the decision making so women who want support and help will find it harder, making that decision is harder when that issue of judgement is there in that way.”

Ms Beilharz said the Federal Government did not rule on abortion law and it should not be turned into a political issue.

“Regardless of the views of candidates of any of the parties they will not be asked to vote on whether is it legal or available,” she said.

“Their only influence may be in relation to availability of medical abortion pharmaceuticals ... “

The Right To Life Australia president Margaret Tighe described Ms Beilharz comments as “expected”.

“It’s not surprising because I’ve been in this game for a long time and it’s a typical reaction,” she said.

“It’s the sleeping issue, the one that nobody wants to know about ... you’ll find that the groups who are in favour of legalised abortion use all sorts of euphemisms and nice language, talking about choices and women must be free and agonising decisions.

“There’s only one reason it’s an agonising decision and that is because abortion kills a baby.

“It’s getting rid of someone.”

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