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Salient. Newspaper of Victoria University of Wellington Students Association. Vol 41 No. 3. March 13 1978

Democracy and Abortion

Democracy and Abortion

Dear Editor,

In the last Salient (March 6), there were at least five references to abortion as being a "democratic right" of women. The terminology employed is emotive, without any underlying basis for its use. However, it has the effect that if one uses the phrase for long enough one will start to believe it. ( A form of self-hypnosis or brain-washing)

Supposedly abortion is a "right" — or so the "abortion rights" movement suggests. But where does such a right derive from? There is no generally recognised document or statement conferring such a right, e.g. Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Human Rights Commission Act 1977. The law of this country denies that such a right exists. Therefore there would seem to be no basis for the claim that abortion is a "right". On this basis, abortion is as much a "right" as my right to thump your face in.

Secondly, abortion is said to be a "democratic" right. But where does democracy enter into it? New Zealand is a democracy, and our MPs last year exercised their democratic choice and voted to restrict abortions. Even if one took an opinion poll and got a 51% majority in favour of abortions — would that make it a "democratic" right? What if public opinion shifted to 49%? Or should the vote be between the pregnant woman and her foetus — but how can one say which way the foetus will vote? What if it is assumed the foetus wants to live? Who wins? Or is there some statute guaranteeing abortion as a "democratic right"? There isn't A vote might be taken at a meeting of pro-abortion people I suppose confirming this — but that wouldn't even be as democratic as Ian Smith's regime in Rhodesia.

Could you please refrain from using the terra "woman's democratic right to abortion" (and the like) in future in your newspaper. It is misleading and without foundation whatsoever.

Yours etc.,

Vic Urwin.