Even if Nationals MP George Christensen misses out on pushing his abortion agenda through parliament before he steps down at the next election, others in the Christian Right orbit are promising to continue his work.
In recent days, Christensen has told Christian bloggers that having his Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2021 debated and enacted into law would be his ideal “parting shot” from an 11-year parliamentary career.
The proposed legislation would require medical treatment to be rendered to babies born alive during abortion procedures.
“If the parting shot that I’ve got before I leave the hallowed halls of Parliament House is getting a vote on this and even getting it through the parliament – as high as that bar may be – that would be good. But at least it’s on the agenda,” he said.
Failing that, some of Christensen’s conservative Liberal-National Party (LNP) colleagues in the parliament have vowed to take over the fight once the member for Dawson has vacated his seat.
Senator Matt Canavan, who joined with Christensen at a pro-life rally on last weekend, said he would also introduce a bill to stop Medicare funding going toward abortions – an idea floated by Christensen in March and reported at the time by the Rationalist Society of Australia.
Senator Canavan and Christensen have been among a number of LNP members who have presented at the Church & State summit, an event linked to Dominionist theology, in recent years.
Speaking at the event in late February, Senator Canavan said that Christians were needed in public life more than even as they played “a very important role in influencing our culture and our community”.
Christensen has revealed that the inspiration behind his Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2021 came from reading the new book of former Australian Christian Lobby leader Lyle Shelton.
In recent days, Christian-based lobby groups, including FamilyVoice Australia, Cherish Life and the Australian Christian Lobby, have orchestrated mass email campaigns targeting government leaders and other members of parliament.
Such groups are urging the government to adopt the bill as its own or to at least allow debate on a private member’s bill.
Critics of the bill argue that Australia’s anti-abortion activists have plagiarised their American counterparts in a “heroic sounding, but fundamentally sneaky and misleading” campaign.
A spokesperson for family planning organisation Marie Stopes Australia has accused Christensen of proposing legislation for “a circumstance that by the nature of the procedure wouldn’t occur”.
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @si_gladman
Image: George Christensen MP (Facebook)