THE Archdiocese of Brisbane has been slammed for distributing “misleading” information about proposed abortion laws across the southeast, including to some Catholic school communities.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s office distributed an email to a range of people in the Brisbane archdiocese late last week, including parishioners and parents at some Brisbane Catholic Education schools, calling for people to have their say.
In the email Archbishop Coleridge said the draft Bill would “allow abortion until the day that a baby is born”, with late-term abortions requiring approvals from two doctors.
“Healthy expectant mothers will be able to have an abortion at any time in Queensland for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with health,” the Archbishop said in an attached video.
The draft Bill, tabled in Parliament by Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath last week, stipulates that a termination after 22 weeks will be permitted only if at least two doctors agree that it is appropriate in “all the circumstances”.
Doctors must consider a woman’s current and future physical and mental health and social circumstances collectively.
Health Minister Steven Miles said he and Ms D’Ath had personally briefed church leaders “some weeks ago”.
“We addressed these misleading claims then,” he said.
“This is exactly why Queensland Health has launched a fact checker website.”
Mr Miles said he had personally submitted the Archbishop’s email and video to the website so that “every Queenslander can learn the truth.”
One father, whose children attend San Sisto College and Villanova College, received the email last week.
“I forwarded it to the Secular Humanists group not because of the matter at hand, but that the church, through the bishop, chose to use easily refutable untruths in this widely disseminated email,” he said.
“This is an abuse of power, manipulating an already malleable group, and it is not OK.”
Archbishop Coleridge told The Courier-Mail yesterday he was heartened by the support he’d received since the email.
“Inevitably we’ve had criticism, but the very clear response from Queenslanders has been genuine concern at these proposed abortion laws,” he said.
“Almost 90 per cent of people who have responded to the email say they don’t support the proposed laws.
“There are fewer than 160 words in the legislation that cover the circumstances in which a baby can be terminated after 22 weeks.
“I have the utmost respect for doctors but are they experts in areas like social and psychological assessment when we’re talking about the life of a woman and the life of a baby that may be full-term?”
Rationalist Society of Australia president Meredith Doig said the Bill allowed for late-term abortions in emergency circumstances.
“Women should not be forced to continue a pregnancy they do not want,” she said.