People’s attitude towards abortion in Australia Abstract: The hypothesis, “It is apparent that in Australia people are not supportive of abortion. ” would be tested in the report. The aim of it was to reveal the current views of people in Australia towards abortion, under the circumstances of different age and cultural background. A questionnaire about justified reasons, legalization and values on abortion was constructed and the target group would be 20 international students and 20 local Australians.
The international students were mainly Chinese, and a few from South-East Asia. Though most participants did not have a really strong stance of supporting abortion or not, when there were further questions about Pro-choice behaviour and legalization of abortion, it was discovered that participants were actually in respect of freedom of choice, and agreed that abortion should be legalized. Therefore it could be said that comparing the 2 sides, participants were rather supportive to abortion.
Based on the results, extended researches covering a larger target group which could mostly represent different cultural groups could be conducted to test whether abortion was really generally acceptable or not or could it be legalized under all cases. Introduction Abortion had been a controversial issue for hundreds of years, discussions and debates were always held to argue whether it should or should not be declared legal.
This issue was crucial at all time because the attitude towards it were mainly influenced by various important values of life like morality, human rights and freedom of choice, adding that they were the key factors to determine whether it should be declared legal. “Abortion can be defined as the expulsion or removal of an embryo or foetus from the uterus of the pregnant mother” (Blade, 2008). It could be divided into two types. First, the “spontaneous abortion” occurs when the mother’s body ejects the foetus due to different reasons, usually natural ones (without human effort).
This report focused on another type of abortion, “induced abortion”. This was what people usually mean when they use the word abortion. In other words, it was the “termination of pregnancy”. After the Federation in 1901, abortion was handled by the British Offences Against the Person Act of 1861. In the act, abortion was illegal , no matter under what circumstances. However, since then, abortion would be legal in some cases under the law.
For instance, Natasha,(1998), suggested that under the McGuire ruling (1986) in Queensland, abortion could only be legalized when the mother was in threat that abortion could preserve her life or health. Another case that abortion could be legalized was that if the newborn baby would die immediately or within a short period. For the current legislation about it in Queensland under the Queensland Criminal Code, the viewpoint remained similar that the court would prohibit abortion unless the mothers life or health is in danger.
Though, it did not reveal any response on the change of attitudes of people towards abortion. The aim of the report was to reveal the current views of people in Australia towards abortion, under the circumstances of different age and cultural background(international students versus local Australians). It appeared that nowadays more and more people were supportive to abortion. This view would be supported by the results from survey and then a discussion part of it would be included and at last the conclusion and recommendation would be formulated.
Methodology: Questionnaires about the attitudes of abortion of people were used to collect data for the report. A qualitative methodology was used. The reason for choosing it was because the report focused more on depth, rather than quantity. According to the Family Health International (2005), a qualitative research provided information about the “human” side of an issue, which was often contradictory. It could also interpret the complex reality or create a better understanding to a specific situation and the implications of the qualitative data.
Another important point was that it could help identify intangible factors (age, gender, nationality, religion, etc) in the report. These factors were the keys that influence a person’s attitude toward the issue. The emphasis of the questionnaire was to understand participant’s standpoints for or against abortion, therefore 10 out of 14 questions were about their opinion, the rest were 3 attribute questions and 1 knowledge question. The total number of participants was 40. There were altogether 20 international students studying in Australia and 20 local Australians completed the questionnaire.
Among the participants, 23 of them were female and 17 were male. In the student group, 2 of them were under or below 18 and 18 were at the age of 19 to 30. Among the local Australians, 6 of them were between 31-45 and another 14 were 45 or above. A point to note was that for the international students, 15 of them were Chinese. To make sure the information would be kept secret, no questions were about identity or other private information. The questionnaires were given out in two ways. The first way was to distribute them at school and at homes, and another way was to distribute them through the internet.
Participants were quite interested to the questionnaire as they thought that it was a controversial issue. However in the process, participants found confused with the last open-ended question about the relationship between culture, age and abortion as it was not required to state reasons but lines were given. Moreover, due to a lack of time in completing the questionnaire, i. e. in 5 or 10 minutes, the data collected might be distorted. Results: The purpose of the questionnaire was to find out the attitudes of people in Australia towards abortion.
Questions were divided into 3 main categories: justified reasons for abortion, legalization of abortion and viewpoints and value towards abortion. For the justified reasons for abortion, a total of 8 choices were given to participants and they could choose more than one answers, including: 1. psychological reasons e. g. resisting abrupt change of life 2. economic reasons e. g. financial burden of raising children 3. unwanted babies e. g. pregnant in mistake 4. caused by rapes 5. unready for responsibility 6. as problems with relationship or wants to avoid single parenthood 7. mother has health problems 8. has already all the children she wanted or all children are grown From the questionnaire, participants thought that the most justified reasons for abortion were “economic reasons” and “pregnancies caused by rapes”, both of them make 62. 5% of the total. The next would be “unready for responsibility” (35%), “unwanted babies” (32. 5%), “mother has health problems” (30%), “problem for relationship or wants to avoid single parenthood” (22. 5%), “psychological reasons” (12. %) and the least justified reason would be “has already children she wanted or all children are grown” (10%). For another category, legalization of abortion, there was an open-ended question asking the participants about one pros and cons of abortion. For the pros, there were several main ideas. First, people thought that after legalization of abortion, risks could be reduced as people no longer find doctors with no license to abort. Secondly, it would a respect to freedom of choice of people. Thirdly, there would be fewer children grown up in an unstable environment.
For the cons, people also got similar ideas, for instance, abortion was against the respect of life, i. e. killing innocent life. Also, people could be more irresponsible as they could abort legally. For the last category, viewpoints and values towards abortion, 6 questions were raised. Majorities believed that abortion was becoming common nowadays (25% strongly agree, 50% agree). For the question about whether the people’s views towards abortion was changing, bigger part of them agree with the statement (20%strongly agree, 40% agree) buy quite a number of people maintained neutral (32. %). For the question ” it is inhuman and should be banned”, the 2 sides were almost balanced (5% strongly agree, 32. 5% agree versus 7. 5%strongly disagree and 37. 5% disagree), about 17. 5% people chose to be neutral. In the question of freedom of choice, it was quite one-sided that it should be highly respected (40% for both strongly agree or agree, adding up to 80%). Asking about if it was acceptable in all cases, disagreement (20% strongly disagree, 42. 5% disagree) was more than agreement (32. 5% agree).
Though, quite a lot of people thought that they would have different views upon abortion in different cases (35% strongly agree, 32. 5% agree). For the last open-ended question about the relationship between age, culture and views towards abortion, the main ideas of the participants were that aged people, i. e. age group of 45 or above, would be more conservative and therefore have a negative view upon abortion. Moreover, they thought that people with different culture, particularly “westerners” in the Chinese’s eyes, would be more open and accept the idea of abortion.
Discussion and conclusion: The aim of the report was to reveal the current views of people in Australia towards abortion, under the circumstances of different age and cultural background (international students versus local Australians). From the results, we could see that many participants did not have a really strong stance of supporting abortion or not, only a few do. For instance, about 70% of the participants agreed that they would have different views upon abortion in different cases.
The most “justified” cases would be pregnancies by rapes and economic reasons (It was logical that according to Thomson Reuters (2009), an income group of US$39,100 – $65,800 would need a total of $170,460 a year to raise up a children form 0 to 17 year old). Yet, there were enough data to test the hypothesis. There were data supporting the hypothesis. From the results, participants who did not fully support abortion were mainly female or Chinese, whom thought that abortion was inhuman and should be banned. The number made up 32. 5% of the total participants.
The reason behind was that female themselves would have real experiences in giving birth so they would have deeper thoughts than male. For Chinese participants, they were young but at the same time they were also deeply influenced by a traditional style of education. The curriculum focused on teaching people to have right values stated by the Confucius and other great figures. According to Vivien (2006), the vice president for education at the Asia Society, china should move away from the traditional forms of practices and adopt a broader curriculum to achieve the goal of becoming a real modern society.
Despite there were data supporting the hypothesis, it was in a small proportion. We could find more data that was contrary to it. It also proved that people at older ages might not be conservative. Participants, mostly Australians (mostly aged 45 or above), were rather Pro-Choice. It was because of the trend of abortion. It was becoming more and more common. According to a table drawn by Wm Robert Johnson (2008), the abortion percentage rose from 15. 6% in 1984 to 21. 5% in 2006 in Australia. It might also be because of the cultural background.
Comparing to country like China, westernized countries emphasized more on freedom of people. From the results, there were 32. 5% of the total participants who thought abortion was acceptable at all cases. Most importantly, over 80% of them agreed that people should respect the mother’s decision. The data was supported by a report by Monash University (2002). It included a survey on AES voters and candidates (about 2000 people are surveyed a year) about their attitudes towards abortion, from 1987 to 2001.
The percentage of people choosing the criteria ” Woman should be able to obtain an abortion readily when they want one” rose from 38% to 59% from 1987 to 2001. On the other hand, the percentage of people choosing the criteria “abortion should not be allowed under any circumstances” dropped from 6% to 3% in that period. Another evidence was that when participants were asked about whether abortion should be legalized, 65% of them thought that it should be legalized. From the above, we could understand the current views of people in Australia towards abortion, at different ages and cultural background.
Though people did not have a strong stance of supporting abortion or not, we could find more evidence showing that people were actually more Pro-Choice than Pro-Life, in other words they would be more supportive to abortion, especially in recent years where abortion was more commonly found. Recommendations: Concerning the implications of the report findings, it was quite obvious that more people in Australia were actually supportive to abortion, based on their Pro-Choice attitude and the agreement of legalizing abortion.
The scale and the target groups of the report were small that might distort the real opinion throughout the country. However, based on the report findings, extended researches could be done in examining whether abortion was generally acceptable or not and the possibility to further legalize abortion, as participants of the questionnaire could already clearly state some pros and cons of legalizing abortion. The research should cover a larger target group as Australia was rather multi-cultural.
People in different culture could have their views in according to the religion, which was also important in this issue and not discussed in this report. To conclude, though the report did not represent most age and cultural groups in Australia, it could be the basis of further research in testing whether legalizing abortion was possible. References: Blade 2001, “Should abortion be legalized in Queensland, Australia? “, Available at http://www. bladesplace. id. au/abortion-law-queensland. html C. Natasha 1998, “Abortion law in Australia”, Law and Bills Digest Group
Family Health International 2005, “Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide”, p. 1-2 “People and Place” 2004, Monash University, vol 12, no. 4 , p. 25 S. Vivien, E. Owens 2006, “Education Abroad: The China Syndrome”, Edutopia magazine Thomson Reuters 2009, “The cost of raising children”, available at: http://moneycentral. msn. com/articles/family/kids/tlkidscost. asp Wm. Robert Johnson 2008, “Historical abortion statistics” available at: http://www. johnstonsarchive. net/policy/abortion/australia/ab-aust-qld. html