This Christian Woman Said Having An Abortion In A State Where The Procedure Is A Crime Was An "Eye-Opener"

    "Abortion is portrayed in Christianity as being this cold and callous money-making business."

    Brisbane woman Liz* and her husband are Christians who attend church and are involved in their parish community.

    Nyul / Getty Images

    Liz fell pregnant earlier this year.

    "We already have one little child and we were really excited to have another baby," the 28-year-old told BuzzFeed News.

    But after 11 weeks of gestation Liz's test results showed that the foetus had abnormalities.

    "We knew that even if it was best case scenario there would be significant health issues, a lot of time spent at hospitals, and a lifetime of disability," she said.

    "So we chatted to our parents, which was incredibly important. My dad said to me that if the Lord really wanted us to keep the baby he would make that clear to us."

    Liz and her husband decided they would terminate the pregnancy and booked in for a procedure at a Marie Stopes International Australia clinic.

    "I felt really peaceful about it," Liz said. "The care I had was excellent, and I didn't have anyone trying to persuade me one way or the other, and there were options to out opt."

    Liz said the experience was a massive "eye-opener" to narratives put forward by religious organisations about abortion service providers.

    "Abortion is portrayed in Christianity as being this cold and callous money-making business, and that if you have an abortion you'll never really get rid of the guilt because you'll suffer for the rest of your life," she said.

    "But to reduce abortion down to life or murder takes the person out of it, and it is wrong, as every medical and mental health history is different ... it becomes almost ideology."

    In the lead-up to Queensland's election on Saturday, Liz's social media feeds were filled with her Christian friends sharing medically inaccurate campaign materials against pro-choice candidates who might assist the push to decriminalise the procedure.

    "I just saw these really intelligent and beautiful 'pro-life' women I know posting these things on Facebook that just weren't factual," she said.

    Supplied

    Cherish Life flyer.

    More than 150 candidates signed a pro-choice candidate pledge from independent lobby group Fair Agenda, while anti-abortion lobby group Cherish Life targeted voters with unsolicited phone calls, letterbox drops and emails which claimed the election was the "most important" ever because a re-elected Labor government would allow "extreme Victorian-style abortion laws up to birth with no restrictions and no protections for mother or child".

    "I am practical enough and have worked in the healthcare sector long enough to know they don't do abortions in the labour ward, and that most abortions happen really early on, around seven or nine weeks," Liz said.

    "The images [people were posting on Facebook] weren't medically accurate."

    Bills to decriminalise the procedure, which is only lawful to "prevent serious danger to the woman's physical or mental health", have been referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission.

    Although religious organisations led the push against decriminalisation, new polling released last week by Fair Agenda found that for three-quarters of Queenslanders, religious beliefs did not influence their views on legalising abortion.

    Overall, 67% of voters said the issue of decriminalising abortion in Queensland was important in deciding who they'd vote for.

    So far Labor has won 44 of the 48 seats it is predicted to gain, while the LNP sits on 36, with four crossbench MPs.

    The independent Law Reform Commission is expected to report back by 30 June 2018 on decriminalisation legislation after which Labor has promised to bring forward laws, in the next term of parliament, to "modernise Queensland's abortion laws".

    Liz believes abortion should be removed from her state's criminal code.

    Pro Choice Qld

    "It should not be a crime, but I do believe it should be done by a medical practitioner," she said.

    Liz said people in her church community were encouraged not to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

    "I've actually seen women in church who have quite dire diagnoses of pregnancy who have confided in people in church, who encourage them to continue the pregnancy ... I've wondered on a few occasions when they're saying a doctor is telling them to terminate whether they should be believing for a miracle," she said.

    "But marriages are placed under strain, some women don't have much support and where is the church then to provide respite and help? When I hear Christians talk about it I think it is an academic discussion until you're in it."

    In her parish community, doctors were "portrayed as not giving women a choice" but Liz said she was briefed on all her options and felt she would have been supported either way.

    She feels "at peace" with her decision to end her pregnancy.

    "I haven't had a sense of unrest of unease; I felt that it was a wise decision."

    * Not her real name.

    Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Gina Rushton at gina.rushton@buzzfeed.com.

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