Queensland state MP Mark Robinson is vehemently opposed to a bill to decriminalise abortion in the state where it is currently only lawful if performed to “prevent serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health”.
He believes the bill removes protections from women who he claims are being "coerced" into abortions by their violent partners.
“I think certainly there are cases that industry professionals on a regular basis have women come to them and report that the partner in their life is actually trying to coerce them into having an abortion," Robinson told BuzzFeed News.
"Those in the industry quietly talk about it … it is anecdotal, there might not actually be a full research study on that," he said.
But Cairns sexual health doctor Jo MacLean, who has worked in obstetrics and pregnancy terminations over two decades, told BuzzFeed News she deals regularly with victims of domestic violence seeking abortions and has never encountered the phenomenon.
"I don't see women who are coerced into having an abortion. I see a lot of women in domestic violence relationships who are being coerced into continuing pregnancies," she said.
"I see a lot of coercion into stopping contraception, particularly young men who have a violent nature and will use the presence of a contraceptive implant as an excuse for domestic violence."
"[I see] coercion to continue pregnancies as a sign of ownership but not coercion into abortions," she said.
"We are highly trained in recognising ambivalence in women and if there is ambivalence we offer time and counselling and we don't go ahead."
Queensland GP Dr Tim Coyle, who is a key voice in the campaign to stop decriminalisation of abortion in Queensland, told BuzzFeed News that women who found themselves with an unwanted pregnancy in a violent relationship should choose an option other than abortion.
"If people are in [a violent] situation maybe they need to move out and there is always the Family Court," said Coyle, who is also the president of religious anti-abortion lobby Cairns Cherish Life.
"Aborting the baby would, in my opinion, make things worst because it is a violent solution and if you don't deal with the violence that is there already in the relationship you'll have more problems."
If Australian women had "proper counselling" they would "probably change their mind about their abortion", he said.
"There are people who think women are ambivalent about abortion and they approach these women outside abortion clinics and politely ask them if this is what they want and a certain number of them decide they don't want to anymore and leave."
On Monday, White Ribbon, a male-led organisation working to end male violence against women and girls threw its support behind the bill.
An inquiry into the laws governing termination of pregnancy in Queensland will report to the state's parliament on August 26, where the bill will then be debated.
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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