There's 'choice' and there's ...

Wednesday 3 January 2007 12:47 AM

Eva Cox of the Womens Electoral Lobby bemoans that "(Tony Abbott) has difficulty separating his personal beliefs with his role as Minister for Health." (The Age, 3/1). The double-standard is extraordinary. Imagine the reaction if it were suggested that a health minister with pro-abortion convictions was thus disqualified from office, or that an avowed feminist could not drive Womens Affairs.

What seems to escape Cox (along with Natasha Stott-Despoja, and others) is that Western democracies are "pro-choice", fundamentally. Every Australian is free to believe, speak and act on whatever philosophical, social, spiritual, or other belief system they choose. This climate entitles any Australian to bring their personal convictions to bear on public life and debate at any level, whether around the cabinet table or the suburban barbie. "Pro-Choice" enthusiasts believe that the validation and availability of abortion serves the good of women and of society at large. Fair enough. But unfortunately for them, "Pro-Lifers" (Abbott and myself among them) - based on a variety of faith convictions or none - believe precisely the opposite with equal conviction. Either may question the soundness of the other's position; but our society validates both. That's democracy, Ms Cox. You have to live with it, and so do I.