(image courtesy clker.com)
By Spencer D Gear PhD
How do you think a politician would push her views on abortion? I wrote to her on 5 November 2015 by email to expose what I understood she was doing. The title of my email was, ‘Quit your histrionics and bullying’:
I read the article in the Brisbane Times (2 November 2015) about what you are doing to Queensland State MPs, ‘Greens Senator Larissa Waters wants Queensland MPs to show position on abortion‘.
Please quit this action of bullying Qld MPs. They are big boys and girls who are capable of thinking through the abortion issues themselves.
We already have provision for doctors to abort if there is physical or mental danger to the mother.
It is important that children be protected from conception. You obviously don’t give a hoot about that view. It’s important to safeguard children from murder while they are in the womb. There are life and death reasons for keeping the Qld abortion laws as they are.
It is time for you, a federal Qld senator, to remove yourself from wanting to influence State MPs like this and using the mass media to push your view. What you are doing is engaging in histrionic bullying of MPs with your public demands.
How do you think her office would reply to this kind of personal email from me?
A. Red herring reply from a Senator’s office
I want to commend the Senator’s office for replying to my email because many of the Senators I contact do not get back to me at all. It’s as if my writing to them, for whom I have voted, is a waste of time. However, how did the person in the senator’s office reply? Here it is:
Thank you for contacting Senator Larissa Waters regarding abortion.
Senator Waters respects your concerns and acknowledges your perspective on this issue.
The Australian Greens have been, and continue to be, strong supporters of women’s right to access free, safe and legal termination services. The Greens believe it’s unacceptable that so many Australian women still struggle to access this basic health service, which is why we will continue to work to improve women’s access to termination services.
Thank you again for contacting Senator Waters to express your views.
[staff member’s name]
Office of Senator Larissa Waters 
Notice what she missed from my email of 5 November to Senator Waters? She omitted one of my primary emphases that I placed in the email title, ‘Quit your histrionics and bullying’. Not once in this reply did the staff member mention my accusation of bullying of Qld MPs – not once. She avoided it to push Senator Waters’ pro-abortion agenda.
(Herrings kippered by smoking and salting until they turn reddish-brown, i.e. a “red herring”. Prior to refrigeration kipper was known for being strongly pungent; courtesy Wikipedia)
By avoiding the topic I raised of histrionic bullying of MPs, Senator Waters’ office has practised a red herring logical fallacy. What is that? The Nizkor Project explains:
A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue. The basic idea is to “win” an argument by leading attention away from the argument and to another topic. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:
1. Topic A is under discussion.
2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A).
3. Topic A is abandoned.
This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because merely changing the topic of discussion hardly counts as an argument against a claim (The Nizkor Project 2012. S v red herring).
Therefore, I responded to Catherine Garner via email:
Your response is a red herring logical fallacy. You did not address the issue I raised of Senator Waters bullying Qld MPs about their views on abortion. Please quit it. Bullying in all its forms should not be promoted, let alone practised, by Senator Waters.
1. Politicians among least trusted
Your reply endorses fallacious reasoning. No wonder in 2011, reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, it was found that ‘this year’s Reader’s Digest survey on the most-trusted professions sandwiches politicians between car salesmen and telemarketers, in the bottom three out of a list of 45 vocations’. Politicians were 44 on the list of 45′ (The Sydney Morning Herald 2011). Sadly, journalists were competing with politicians near the bottom of that list at No. 40. In fact, sex workers are at #39, meaning that politicians are less trusted than prostitutes.
How was Senator Waters tackling the views of Queensland MPs on abortion?
B. Politician bullying other politicians
(photo of Senator Larissa Waters, courtesy Wikipedia)
This federal Greens’ senator for Queensland, Larissa Waters was bullying Qld MPs with some of these emphases, as reported by the Brisbane Times:
1. She was asking Queensland State MPs to declare their position on decriminalising abortion. Why? It was a component of her campaign to expose what she considers is Qld’s ‘outdated law’ that she wants changed. To me, this seems like a predicted technique. She is pushing for a change in Qld State legislation. So what better way to do this than to unmask the politicians’ perspectives on abortion so that she could then attempt to debunk or parade their values for possible ridicule or exposure in their electorates?
However, she is a federal politician and should be leaving State politics to the state political sphere. This doesn’t prevent her from expressing her views. However, she did it in a very public sphere through this article in the Brisbane Times.
2. This was associated with a report in the Brisbane Times that Qld women were travelling interstate to obtain abortions (Mitchell-Whitington 2015). This article claimed Qld women wanting abortions were breaking the law by going south for the procedure. ‘In 2014, Children by Choice referred 77 women interstate, with similar organisations making the same type of referrals so that figure is probably much higher’, claimed Professor Caroline de Costa of James Cook University School of the College of Medicine and Dentistry. De Costa’s contention was that ‘extensive abortion “tourism” from all Australian states to Victoria and overseas (is occurring) in the face of barriers to access to abortion’.
So this Brisbane Times article garnered a pro-abortion response from a Professor of Medicine. Where was the balance? I did not find a right of response from Cherish Life, a right-to-life organisation.
3. This is how Waters is bullying Qld MPs. It was reported that ‘Larissa Waters has begun campaigning to decriminalise the procedure [of abortion] in the sunshine state, with plans to publish where Queensland’s MPs stand on the issue’ (Remeikis 2015). This kind of threat amounts to bullying by intimidation, in my view.
4. This article stated, ‘”The fact that abortion is still a crime in Queensland creates stigma and legal uncertainty for women and for doctors,” Ms Waters said in the letter to the state’s MPs’. So Waters is pushing the stigma and legal side to try to get MPs to declare their hand on abortion so that she will shame them (this is how I see it) about ‘the dearth of access to abortion in Queensland’ (Remeikis 2015).
5. The bullying by shaming continues: ‘Our outdated laws, are hurting Queensland women’. This is guilt by association. If Qld MPs support the current abortion laws they are endorsing old fashioned laws that are hurting women, according to Waters.
6. The guilt by association and bullying continued: ‘Ms Waters said polling shows four out of five voters supported decriminalising abortion, with the Australian Medical Association of Queensland calling the current law “a barrier to a doctor’s first duty – best patient care”’. Not one statistic was quoted by the Brisbane Times or Ms Waters to support this assertion of the percentage of Queenslanders who support abortion. However, elsewhere these are the polling statistics that were not 80% in favour of abortion:
ALMOST two-thirds of Queenslanders support the decriminalisation of abortion, according to an exclusive Galaxy opinion poll.
The poll of 800 voters, conducted exclusively for The Courier-Mail, found 64 per cent believed abortion should be legalised, while 31 per cent disagreed. Five per cent were uncommitted (Miles 2009, emphasis in original).
A year later it was reported:
(image courtesy clipartpal.com)
New independent polling by Galaxy Research reveals Queensland voters are evenly split on whether to “decriminalise abortion”, despite widespread media coverage of the recent Cairns court trial and contrary to recent claims by the pro-abortion lobby that there is 90 per cent support.
The poll, taken after the week-long trial, shows a cautious attitude towards abortion with 29 per cent saying they would not allow abortion “at any stage of pregnancy”. This makes a total of 74 per cent of Queenslanders who would not permit abortion beyond the first trimester, or not at all.
Even support for first-trimester abortions is qualified because half (49 per cent) of Queensland voters do not support abortion for non-medical reasons (that is, social or financial reasons). Of course, it is deemed common knowledge that the majority of the annual 14,000+ abortions in Queensland are carried out for non-medical reasons, something which may shock the general public if they knew.
Catapulting the cause for abortion law reform into media headlines was the trial of a young couple in Cairns during October 12-14. After only one hour of deliberation the jury found them not guilty of the two charges: procuring one’s own abortion and supplying a drug to procure an abortion (McCormack 2010, emphasis in original).
Commenting on this poll, the Australian Christian Lobby stated:
“Despite activist organisation GetUp! reportedly claiming that decriminalising abortion has 90% public support, this new poll shows that 74% of Queensland voters are opposed to abortion past the first trimester,” ACL Managing Director Jim Wallace said. “Another important finding is that almost everybody (94%) believes that a woman should receive free independent counseling to enable a fully informed decision. Three quarters of respondents (77%) believed that abortion can harm the mental and physical health of a woman.
“The poll also found that 29% of respondents did not support abortion at any stage of a pregnancy, and that nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said they did not support abortion for non-medical reasons. This is particularly noteworthy considering that the vast majority of abortions carried out in Australia today are not for medical reasons, but for purely for financial or social reasons.
“There is clearly no consensus that abortion laws should be changed except to introduce better safeguards for women such as independent counseling, cooling-off periods and parental consent for girls under 16,” Mr Wallace said (Australian Christian Lobby 2010).
A 2008 survey reported in The Medical Journal of Australia came to different conclusions. It was ‘an anonymous online survey of 1050 Australians aged 18 years or older (stratified by sex, age and location) using contextualised questions, conducted between 28 and 31 July 2008’ and reached the conclusion that there was,
a high level of support for access to early abortion; 87% of respondents indicated that abortion should be lawful in the first trimester (61% unconditionally and 26% depending on the circumstances). In most of the clinical and social circumstances described in our survey, a majority of respondents indicated that doctors should not face professional sanctions for performing abortion after 24 weeks’ gestation.
Conclusions: Our data show that a majority of Australians support laws which enable women to access abortion services after 24 weeks’ gestation, and that support varies depending on circumstances. Simple yes/no polls may give a misleading picture of public opinion (de Crespigny et al 2010).
However, this study did admit that ‘late abortion is especially controversial, although less than 2% of abortions occur at 20 weeks or later. Few data support the belief that Australians strongly oppose women’s access to late abortion, while surveys in the United Kingdom and United States do report opposition’ (de Crespigny et al 2010).
C. Abortion ‘tourism’ is pathetic publicity
Professor de Costa of James Cook School of Medicine used a wretched designation for the travelling to another city to have an abortion. She called it, ‘extensive abortion “tourism”… in the face of barriers to access to abortion’ (Mitchell-Whitington 2015). Sarah Colyer (2015) for the Australian Medical Association also used the language of ‘abortion tourism’ and cited Professor de Costa in her article, along with others. In a Media Release for the Australian Medical Association on 26 October 2015, Professor de Costa again repeated the offensive language of ‘tourism’ to obtain an abortion because of the divergence in legislation across Australia: ‘The result of these differences is continuing and extensive abortion “tourism” from all Australian states to
Victoria and overseas in the face of barriers to access to abortion’ (de Costa 2015).
1. ‘Medical tourism’ in action
I find it abominable that any medical doctor or professor could call the killing of an unborn child in abortion to be an example of tourism in action. Wouldn’t travelling interstate to murder somebody be a better description of what goes on?
How do you think others see this view of ‘tourism’? One comment to Colyer (2015) was: ‘The use of the word “tourism” in this article is in the same context as “medical tourism” – where people travel to have procedures or treatment that are not accessible to them locally – either due to availability or cost. The term does not intend to trivialise the treatment, but to describe the act of travelling’ (comment by Sue Ieraci). Another’s response was more provocative, ‘“Tourism’”??? Really???? I find this both an inflammatory and demeaning term to be used in the exploration of a significant health issue’ (Nicole L in Colyer 2015). How does a doctor of conscience with a different view to that of de Costa and others deal with abortion?
I work in Victoria and am always concerned about the welfare and rights of both mother and baby when a woman with an unwanted pregnancy presents. It happens to me very rarely now as I get older.
Unless the mother’s viability is in real danger and there therefore exists the mother’s right to act in self defence of her life, I will not be part of killing anyone. Therefore, I refuse to be involved in a referral for abortion to someone who is not of the same moral belief. i.e. I will break the law in Victoria where my right as a citizen to act according to my conscience has been legislated away as a result of the unfortunate alliance of left wing Victorian Labor politicians of the early 2000s. Emily’s List is a very powerful lobby group in the Labor Party who have engineered legislation which allows the legal killing of babies while in utero until birth. What barbarity! (Paul Jenkinson in Colyer 2015).
I’m with you, Nicole. To describe travelling to have a procedure to kill an unborn child as ‘tourism’ is not only demeaning and abominable but profane, in my view. The abuse of a life given by God (the child in the womb) through killing is vulgar and wicked to redefine as tourism, even medical tourism. What is a nation coming to where a professor of medicine is prepared to publicly go on record as regarding murder of an unborn child as tourism?
This does get down to worldview and scientific issues regarding the commencement of human life.
This article commenced with a Qld example of a Qld federal Senator, Larissa Waters, who was pressuring (bullying was my language) Qld MPs for their views on abortion so that she could pressure them to decriminalise abortion in Qld.
What was her purpose? She wanted to prevent ‘medical tourism’ by which a pregnant woman would travel to another state or territory to have her abortion – the killing of her unborn child.
The Brisbane-based ‘Children by Choice’, states that the organisation ‘is proud to have the support of our three patrons – Senators Claire Moore, Sue Boyce and Larissa Waters’. So that nails Senator Waters’ colours to the mast. She’s a promoter of abortion and her bullying Qld MPs to obtain their views on abortion seems to be to pressure them into providing evidence that her pro-abortion side can use to manipulate Qld laws for pro-abortion change to decriminalise abortion.
I find the tactic abominable that she has used.
Australian Christian Lobby 2010. Qld polling challenges pro-abortionist claims (online), 29 October. Available at: http://www.acl.org.au/2010/10/qld-polling-challenges-pro-abortionist-claims/ (Accessed 10 November 2015).
Colyer, S 2015. Call to end “abortion tourism”. MJAInSight (online), 26 October. Available at: https://www.mja.com.au/insight/2015/41/call-end-abortion-tourism (Accessed 11 November 2015).
de Costa, C 2015. Advances in fetal medicine outstrip abortion law reform. The Medical Journal of Australia: Media Release (online), 26 October. Available at: https://www.scimex.org/__data/assets/file/0007/57355/Abortion-Laws_MJA_Media-release.pdf (Accessed 11 November 2015)
de Crespigny, L J; Wilkinson, D J; Douglas, T; Textor, M & Savulescu, J 2010. Australian attitudes to early and late abortion. The Medical Journal of Australia (online), 193 (1), 9-12. Available at: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2010/193/1/australian-attitudes-early-and-late-abortion (Accessed 10 November 2015).
McCormack, L 2010. QUEENSLAND: 12 per cent swing in favour of protecting unborn. News Weekly, November 13. Available at: http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=4491 (Accessed 10 November 2015).
Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/ (Accessed 11 November 2015).
Miles, J 2009. Two thirds support abortion law change: poll. The Courier-Mail, September 15. Available at: http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/two-thirds-support-abortion-law-change-poll/story-e6freon6-1225773035076 (Accessed 10 November 2015).
Mitchell-Whitington, A 2015. Outdated Queensland abortion laws creating a ‘tourism’ of women travelling south. Brisbane Times (online), October 26. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/outdated-queensland-abortion-laws-creating-a-tourism-of-women-travelling-south-20151023-gkhbe6 (Accessed 11 November 2015).
Oxford Dictionaries 2015. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/ (Accessed 11 November 2015).
Remeikis, A 2015. Greens Senator Larissa Waters wants Queensland MPs to show position on abortion. Brisbane Times (online), November 2. Available at: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/greens-senator-larissa-waters-wants-queensland-mps-to-show-position-on-abortion-20151101-gko8sy.html (Accessed 10 November 2015).
The Nizkor Project 1991-2012. Fallacies (online). Available at: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ (Accessed 11 November 2015).
The Sydney Morning Herald 2011. Australia’s most trusted: sex workers trump pollies in public confidence stakes (online), June 22. Available at: http://www.smh.com.au/national/australias-most-trusted-sex-workers-trump-pollies-in-public-confidence-stakes-20110622-1ge82.html (Accessed 10 November 2015).
 ‘Histrionic’ means being ‘excessively theatrical or dramatic in character or style’ (Oxford dictionaries 2015. S v histrionic):
 I do not make my personal email available on this ‘Truth Challenge’ website.
 I did not include this last sentence in my email to Waters’ office.
 Remeikis (2015).
 This professorship is confirmed in the MJA InSight (Colyer 2015).
 I am using ‘profane’ as meaning ‘to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt: desecrate; to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use’ (Merriam-Webster 2015. S v profane).
 This is a Medical Journal of Australia publication.
 There was no pagination for this online edition.
Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 January 2016.