Salient. Official Newspaper of Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Vol 40 No. 11. May 23 1977
I have been deeply saddened and perplexed in reading Salient's articles on the Commission on Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion's findings. It is a pretty unfair view that says that, just because an independent commission makes a decision which you don't agree with, it must be biased and wrong.
A comment of Lindy Cassidy was disturbing: she said that 'the Commission was stacked by Government with people who are well known for their views against abortion." Why did she try to mislead the readers of Salient? The statement I quote is (obviously deliberately) ambiguous — but Ms Cassidy clearly implies that the Commission members' views were known to be against abortion at the time of their appointment. What rubbish! Leading members of the then Government — for instance Tizard and Finlay — supported more liberal abortion laws. The Health Minister was drawing the wrath of SPUC for his views. The Prime Minister —Rowling — was determined to take a neutral stand on the issue. How could these men have "stacked" the Commission with anti-abortionists? Surely they chose people with neutral, if not liberal, views? And if the Commission members' views were known to be against abortion at the time, ALRANZ and the other pro-abortion groups would have made an enormous outcry; If we read Ms Cassidy's comment in the alternative way, then she is correct. After hearing mountains of evidence, including lots from pro-abortionists, the Commission decided that, in the light of the evidence, a certain view on abortion was the more correct: the Commission members are thus now "known for their view against abortion." Maybe Ms Cassidy did not mean to be ambiguous, but It seemed clear to roe that she was being deliberately misleading. Why?
The tenor of Dr Sparrow's interview indicated the view that what in fact were mere opinions had the strength of being facts.
All three of Salient's articles, as well as the propaganda pinned up all round the Campus, assume that abortion is a simple matter of women's rights. Surely it is a deeper and more complex problem than this. The foetus, as a human being in its first developmental stage, and as a future citizen, does have its rights. Who are we, as women, to negate totally the rights of this future(?) section of society as we struggle for our own rights?
I'm not saying that the panel system will be good necessarily — it could well be a degrading experience if the wrong people were stuck on the panels.
Don't you think that abortion is a terrible thing which must be avoided if at all possible? I do think that ALRANZ and its outspokeness is helping to water down women's values and thus cause them to seek abortion more readily; also a lot of women are seeking abortion now who wouldn't have dreamed of it before. In this way, ALRANZ and co (including, sadly, the Students' Association) have been very successful. But I think abortion is a sad thing which must be deeply thought over. The Commission has thought it over, surely, in a reasonably unbiased way.