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March 2014 News

Taking a leaf out of the fight against tobacco

  • Written by  Comment: Paul O'Rourke
Emily’s Voice CEO Paul O’Rourke says pro-lifers can learn from the anti-smoking lobby. Photo: Provided

Smoking convinces me that we can and will significantly reduce our nation’s appalling abortion rate and restore dignity to women and unborn children.

Who would have thought even 10 years ago that we would ban smoking from the public bar of the local pub? I mean, what’s more Australian than having a beer, a bet and a cigarette?

These days we place cigarettes in plain packages and store them under the counter or in plain steel white cabinets at the servo or supermarket, like we used to do with the dirty magazines.

We demand ID before retrieving a pack that’s covered with the most ghastly images of what awaits the consumer who knows, “every cigarette is doing you damage”.

The fight against the tobacco monolith goes way back to 1964 when the US Surgeon General declared that smoking kills.

It took the anti-smoking lobby some time to get organised, funded, united and strategic in their response, but 50 years on, and smoking rates in the developed world are plummeting. Anti-smoking has the support of governments, the health profession, unions and the community.

The new wave has spawned a whole new industry to help people give up their habit, from gum and patches, to hypnosis and quit lines and coaches.

The Federal Government is even targeting women who smoke during pregnancy. I love the tagline: “Quit for You, Quit for two”. The television ad cheerily declares: “When you smoke, she gets less oxygen”.

The life movement can learn much from the anti-smoking lobby.

Like smoking, abortion is harmful: It kills a child, wounds a woman, destroys relationships, and weakens society. There is an increasing body of reputable research showing the devastating mental health and physical consequences of abortion.

Abortion causes grief and trauma, affects fertility and the health of subsequent pregnancies, and is linked to breast cancer, increased risk of suicide, depression and drug and alcohol abuse.

There is also clear evidence that abortion does not reduce abuse and neglect or rescue relationships. Cracks are beginning to appear in the rhetoric that abortion is quick, easy and risk free. Abortion is neither safe, nor rare.

The anti-smoking lobby has demonised smoking, but not smokers. Generally, people don’t spit at the smokers who gather in groups at the side of office blocks to feed their habit. Most smokers want to give up and are looking for ways to escape.

In the same way, the pro-lifers are showing equal concern for the mother and her unborn baby, instead of pitting women against their pre-born offspring. Again, good research shows most women would continue a pregnancy if just one significant person in their life were to encourage them to do so. Being pro-woman and pro-child has a much more appealing ring than anti-abortion.

Like Big Tobacco, we need to show how the abortion industry is deceiving women, in the guise of rights and empowerment, to make an obscene profit. We need to give face and voice to abortion’s duped victims, ill-advised, conned and coerced into the “clinic”.

We must also harness and promote the unease of the average Australians, most of whom are opposed to the reasons why most women have abortions. Many of those who say they are generally in favour of abortion, oppose abortion for financial and lifestyle-related reasons.

Culture is up for grabs, and ours for the taking, provided we work together on a clever, thoughtful, integrated national strategy.

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