Abortion bill a matter of life and death, Australian bishop says

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Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, Australia encouraged members of parliament to look beyond the “worn-out ideologies and tricky language” behind a bill to legalization abortion in Queensland.

“When you talk about abortion you’re talking about two lives - the mother and the child - and both lives matter,” Archbishop Coleridge said, in comments reported by diocesan newspaper The Catholic Leader.

“To speak of a woman’s rights is important, but what of the rights of unborn children, or do they have no real human status?”

The archbishop responded to a Queensland proposal that would legalize abortion on demand up to 22 weeks, and abortion until birth with the permission of two separate doctors.

It would also prohibit protesters from coming within 150 meters of an abortion clinic.

Doctors would be permitted to refuse to perform abortions if they have moral objections to doing so, but they must refer patients to another doctor.

Currently, abortion is illegal in Queensland except when a doctor believes a woman's physical or mental health to be in serious danger.

The proposal to legalize abortion is expected to be introduced this month, based on a June report from the Queensland Law Reform Commission, which recommended removing abortion from the Criminal Code.

It is uncertain whether it has the support to pass in parliament, local media reports said.

Opponents of the bill have argued that while the legislative proposal is being presented as a matter of health, it will in fact legalize abortion based on financial, social, or eugenic reasons.

“According to the draft bill, abortion will be permitted until the moment of delivery if two doctors consider that ‘in all circumstances, the termination should be performed’,” Archbishop Coleridge said in The Catholic Leader.

“So, it’s not a health issue. It’s an essentially moral issue that concerns the good of society as a whole because it touches on questions of life and death.”

He cautioned that many women choose abortion out of desperation, believing that they have no other options, because those who support abortion do not present other choices.

“Those MPs who favour the legislation should say why they can accept that Queensland babies who may have reached 40 weeks gestation can be aborted when health isn’t a factor,” he said.

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