Such was the claim of Wendy Lovell in Parliament yesterday:
Another article in the Herald Sun of 26 September, one that I was a little surprised to read, reports Family First senator Steve Fielding as saying he supports a woman’s
right to abortion on demand, and quotes him as saying: ‘Some of these issues are never yes and no’, he said. ‘I’ve always said it is informed consent. It’s a very difficult decision. In the end it’s their decision’. I think he is right, it is a very difficult decision for any woman who chooses to access these procedures.
I must say I also found this claim surprising. Had I voted for a pro-abortion politician?!
Not being a reader of the Herald Sun myself (I prefer to read journalists who write with intelligence, even if they are wrong), I was unaware of this story. Here is a snip from the original story in the Herald Sun:
Senator Fielding, 47, said in a wide-ranging interview that he believed it was a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
“Some of these issues are never yes and no,” he said. “I’ve always said it is informed consent.
“It’s a very difficult decision. In the end it’s their decision.”
The position appears to be at odds with his party’s official policy which says: “Family First opposes abortion and shares the community’s view that the number of about 90,000 abortions in Australia each year is too high and should be reduced.”
But the very next day there was a clarification, also published in the Herald Sun:
Senator Fielding’s office responded by issuing a clarifying statement, saying he had been misinterpreted.
“Senator Fielding supports Family First policy, which opposes abortion,” it said.
“Senator Fielding is against abortion and he believes it is important that women have the support they need during difficult pregnancies.
“The focus for Family First is ensuring pregnant women have all the resources and support they require.
“Senator Fielding recognised that some women may in the end decide to have an abortion, even if extra support is offered.”
That didn’t satisfy the Victorian DLP MLC, Peter Kavanagh, but I reckon if you look at the way the interview was reported in the Herald Sun, you will see what happened. Note how the journalist prefaced Fielding’s statement with his own interpretation of what Fielding said, namely: “Senator Fielding…said…that…it was a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.” Fielding denies that this was what he said, and I agree. Taking the reported words at face value, he speaks simply of the need for “informed consent” when a woman is making a the “very difficult decision” to have an abortion – a decision which is, of course, always the woman’s decision under the current laws. In other words, he was calling for more information to be provided to women making this choice. Which is of course what the “clarification” issued the next day said.
I do think it was a bit unfair – even dishonest – for Ms Lovell to claim Senator Fielding as a supporter of the pro-choice cause in the light of this. See where bad journalism leads?