Melbourne GP Dr Mark Hobart has reported an abortion specialist to the Australian Medical Board for providing an abortion to a couple who wanted a boy instead of a girl. And obstetricians have proposed keeping the sex of unborn babies secret until it is too late to terminate, to prevent gender-based abortions. Dr Hobart revealed a Melbourne couple had asked him to refer them to an abortion clinic after discovering at 19 weeks they were having a girl, when they wanted a boy. Dr Hobart said he refused to give them a referral and reported the specialist, who later terminated the pregnancy, to the Medical Board.

“The parents were upfront and told me that was the reason for the abortion,” Dr Hobart said. “I was dumbfounded. To get a request for an abortion for that reason, I just couldn’t believe it.  Despite being refused a referral by Dr Hobart, the woman had an abortion a few days later. The Medical Board told Dr Hobart it would not pursue the matter because Victorian doctors are allowed to terminate pregnancies of up to 24 weeks. One of Melbourne’s biggest abortion clinics has revealed that couples have requested abortions on gender grounds – although it is “extremely rare” and always refused.

A Senate committee is inquiring into draft legislation prepared by “pro-life” Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan, which would ban Medicare rebates for gender-selective abortions. The inquiry is also investigating “the prevalence of gender selection – with preference for a male child – among some ethnic groups”.  Senator Madigan said that “we do know there are cultures where a boy is preferred over a girl”, although he did not have statistics on the prevalence in Australia. “But if patients were of a view they must have a baby of a particular sex, they could turn up at a termination clinic and say it is for social reasons.”

The National Association of Specialist Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has suggested that laboratories that perform publicly funded chromosomal tests during pregnancy be banned from revealing the sex of the embryo until after 24 weeks, except in cases of gender-based diseases such as haemophilia. “You don’t keep the test results secret, you just keep the sex secret,” association president Andrew Foote said.  Dr Foote said while he had no first-hand knowledge of gender-based abortion, “I think it does happen”. “The view among my colleagues is they’re definitely against it,” he said.

Dr Foote said that keeping the baby’s sex secret until 24 weeks would be a “reasonable safeguard”.  But Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said women had the right to know everything about their pregnancy. The Fertility Control Clinic – Victoria’s biggest abortion provider – told the Senate inquiry that 96 per cent of abortions were performed before 12 weeks’ gestation, when it is too early to know the sex. “It is extremely rare for us to receive requests for gender-selection abortion and we do not acquiesce to such requests,” the clinic’s submission states.

The clinic’s psychologist, Dr Susie Allanson, said patients very rarely requested  gender-based abortions. But nothing could stop a woman from going elsewhere and giving a different reason.”  Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists president Michael Permezel said there was no evidence that babies were being aborted because they were the non-preferred sex. “I don’t think there is any doctor that would perform an abortion on those grounds,” he said. A spokesman for Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said surgical termination of a pregnancy was a matter for the professional judgment of a doctor in consultation with a patient.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports



Some Christian groups want a referendum on gay marriage, saying Australians will reject any change to the status quo if the question posed was a ”black and white” choice on whether to allow ”homosexuals to marry”.  As divisions emerged among the Greens and same-sex marriage advocates over a referendum, Rev Fred Nile joined the Australian Christian Lobby in calling for a referendum.  The government has announced a referendum will be held on September 14 on constitutional recognition for local government but key independents led by Tony Windsor have called for a second question to be attached to the paper on recognition for same-sex marriage.

Rev Nile said his Christian Democratic Party had been ”pipped at the post” by Mr Windsor and had planned to also publicly call for a referendum. He said ”I think people should decide the issue. But the question has to be clear. A question like ‘are you in favour of marriage equality?’ will confuse some people. I’m in favour of marriage equality – between a husband and a wife. ”The question has to be black and white: Do you agree that homosexuals should be legally married? ”I think the majority of people would vote no if the question was clear.”

If a referendum were called Rev Nile said the Christian Democratic Party would man every booth and hand out how-to-vote cards to help those voting no on the issue. He called on the Catholic and Anglican churches to come out in opposition to gay marriage. Australian Christian Lobby spokesman Lyle Shelton said his organisation would make the case for preserving the traditional definition of marriage. ”This is something that people are very passionate about,” he said. He predicted there would be ”every chance” that a public vote to allow same-sex marriage would be defeated.

”If the arguments were presented in a balanced way without the accusations of homophobia or bigotry that are often put towards those who support marriage, I think people would stick with what has been the status quo for millennia,” he said. The push for a referendum has split pro-homosexual marriage supporters. Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who has portfolio responsibility for marriage equality, lobbied leader Christine Milne to reverse her support for a referendum. In comments that appear to confirm she was backtracking, Ms Milne said that a referendum would be a ”distraction” and the issue should be decided before election day in Parliament.

Marriage equality campaigners fear the financial might and organisational infrastructure of the churches could mean a referendum.  Australian Marriage Equality national convener Rodney Croome said: ”We fear cashed-up opponents of marriage equality would exploit a referendum to polarise the electorate and demonise homosexual and lesbian people in a way that will impact badly, particularly on young homosexual people.” Senator Penny Wong compared the referendum push to the 1999 republic referendum, which failed across all states despite having strong public support.

”John Howard and Tony Abbott ran a very good fear campaign and we lost that referendum,” she said. Mr Abbott said the independents and the government were seeking to ”muddy the waters” of the election that, he said, should be ”uncomplicated by other matters” other than the carbon tax and the performance of the Labor government. But Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan, an opponent of same-sex marriage said he had ”no problem with giving the people the opportunity to express their views” in a referendum. ”I believe that the majority of Australians believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports



Managing Director Larry Jacobs said this would be a Congress of firsts-our first in the southern Hemisphere, the first in the Asia-Pacific Region, the first in an English-speaking country and the first in a Commonwealth country. “Equally important,” Jacobs observed, “it’s the first time we’ve had Congresses in two consecutive years-World Congress of Families VI in Madrid in 2012 and WCF VII in Sydney this year. In past years, there have always been 2 to 4 years between Congresses. World Congress of Families VIII is scheduled for Moscow (in the Kremlin), September 10-12, 2014-which would make three Congresses in three years.”

“This is a testament to the growth and vibrancy of the international pro-family movement,” Jacobs declared. World Congress of Families now has more than 40 partners-pro-family, pro-marriage, and pro-life groups in the United States, Canada, Venezuela, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, Australia and South Africa. “These organizations-including groups in the U.S. like Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, Americans United for Life and Alliance Defending Freedom-representing millions of members, support us financially and promote our projects and activities,” Jacobs disclosed.

WCF also has a close working relationship with dozens of family-values groups throughout the world. Leaders of over 95 pro-life, pro-family groups are expected to attend World Congress of Families VII, which opens in Sydney this week. WCF VII comes at a time of growing apprehension over the fate of marriage and the rights of children to have a mother and father. In the United States, the future of natural marriage could hinge on one vote on the Supreme Court. Legislatures in Britain, France and New Zealand all have recently taken steps to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples.

Other global assaults on the natural family, including the attacks on the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death and the worldwide decline in birth rates and marriage rates, have an intractable relationship with the causes of the global economic crisis. “These annual Congresses are an opportunity for the international pro-family movement to meet, strategize, get informed and gird themselves for battle in the war of ideas. This is consistent with the mission of the WCF to provide sound scholarship and effective strategies to affirm and defend the natural family, thus renewing a stable and free society.” Jacobs commented.

Specifically, the World Congress of Families seeks to shift the terms of certain key public debates worldwide:

1. From “The family as an obstacle to development” to the “family as the source of social renewal and progress”;

2. From “overpopulation” to “underpopulation” as the demographic problem facing the 21st century;

3. From “the small family and voluntary childlessness as good” to “the celebration of the large family as a special social gift”;

4. And from religious orthodoxy as a “threat to progress” to “religious orthodoxy as the source of humane values and cultural progress.

Source: The Howard Centre for Family, Religion & Society