new short story collection. Out now!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Whales V Babies

An article by Sean Parnell in The Australian newspaper on Monday January 18, 2010, was about the imminent scrapping of the controversial initiative which current opposition leader Tony Abbott put in place while he was Health Minister in the former Howard government. He funded a Catholic charity to help run a pregnancy hotline designed to hopefully dissuade women from having abortions. This was part of his efforts to lower the abortion rate in Australia.

Some said, good on you Mr Abbott while others said, not your business Mr Abbott. These comments simply reflected the well known divide between the Pro Life and Pro Choice camps. The abortion issue is not one which I wish to directly tackle here, but I do want to mention some statistics.

Rough estimates put the number of abortions in Australia each year at 100 000. According to The Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform( a pro life organization),each year around the world, 42 million abortions occur. That's 115 000 every day. 42 million! That's twice the population of Australia. Every year. The Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform says that 1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).

Take a quick look at another killer of people: cancer. In 2005, cancer killed 83,000 Australians and 7.6 million people worldwide. Less than abortions but still shocking numbers.

Here's the thing. In light of these statistics, I find it hard to get worked up about whales being killed and Tasmanian Devils being wiped out by their own nasty version of cancer. Sure, it's sad and I don't want to see any species become extinct but numerous species have already vanished from the earth and my life is really none the poorer for their absence. How terrible a tragedy would it really be if whales disappeared from our oceans?

People have always fought for what matters to them. They sacrifice time and money for the things they value but for most people these treasures are much closer to home than the Tasmanian wilderness or the Southern Ocean. Nevertheless, most of us want to make a difference in the world, don't we? So good on those who fight for the helpless whales, the poor Tasmanian devils and the abused environment but don't tell me that they matter more than people.

As long as innocent unborn children are being murdered for convenience, I won't shed a single tear or give a second thought to those damned whales, and I'll pray for the success of those who are in a position to dissuade women from having abortions, and for those researching a cure for cancer because people are more important than creatures.

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