Conservative MP George Christensen has pledged to fight to remove federal funding that goes towards abortions but first has his sights on gaining the support of his colleagues for a new bill he claims will save babies born alive during abortion procedures.
Speaking to a conservative Christian audience in a webinar hosted by Family Voice Australia on Monday, Christensen said he was currently waiting for confirmation on whether the Morrison government would sponsor his Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2021 in the House of Representatives.
Without such support, the Nationals MP would have to introduce the bill as a private member’s bill – a route that would likely see it languish in the parliament due to the lack of opportunity provided to debate such bills.
“I’m waiting to get a formal response, and I believe the response is going to come from the Health Minister on that. I’ve asked them if they could let me know by the 15th (of March). If they don’t let me know by the 15th, or if the answer is ‘no’, well then I’m going to introduce the bill myself on the 22nd, I think it is, of March most likely,” he said.
Asked during the webinar whether he would consider launching an effort to limit Medicare funding that supported access to abortions, Christensen revealed that the matter was on his radar for a later date.
But, before such policy action could be pursued, he said significant work would be required to obtain more accurate data on the number of abortions being performed across Australia and extent to which federal funding was being contributed to them through Medicare.
“But, fundamentally, (the question is) correct. Why should I or you, or anyone else who believes that abortion is the murdering of an innocent life, be actually then asked to pay for that which they are conscientiously objected to?” he said.
“I don’t believe I should be paying for it. That debate is going to come up. But all I can say is just I’ll pick one fight at a time at the moment. But, if I’m around for the next three years, you will see that fight play out.”
Critics have described the proposed Human Rights (Children Born Alive Protection) Bill 2021 as “nonsensical”, with Catriona Melville, the deputy medical director of Marie Stopes Australia, saying Christensen is advocating a “policy for a circumstance that by the nature of the procedure wouldn’t occur”.
But Christensen said the bill was necessary to override clinical guidelines, such as those in Queensland, that state life-sustaining treatment should not be provided during abortions if live births occur.
The bill invokes the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, including Article 6, which dictates that, “State parties recognise that every child has the inherent right to life.”
Christensen has so far won support for the legislation from former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, Liberal senator James McGrath and Liberal senator Alex Antic, who has written to the Prime Minister asking him to bring on a vote.
Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Screen grab, Family Voice Australia