FamilyVoice Tasmania state officer Jim Collins has welcomed Tuesday’s launch of the Salamanca Declaration as a sign of growing unity among Tasmanian Christians.
“While Tasmania faces a host of regressive legislation, the church is rising up,” Jim Collins said. “The Salamanca Declaration in support of family, life and religious freedom reflects the growing unity among Tasmanian churches – being salt and light in our state,” Mr Collins said. “Every major church leader in Tasmania has come on board to sign it.”
The Salamanca Declaration was put together by members of the Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian, Pentecostal and Baptist churches. It calls for a return to traditional family values and outlines the Christian community’s united response to current social issues.
Tasmania's House of Assembly Speaker Michael Polley accepted the Declaration on the steps of Parliament House in Hobart on 9 April and it was tabled in the House that day.
Anglican Bishop John Harrower said at the presentation that legislation by health minister Michelle O’Byrne to decriminalise abortion was moving society towards infanticide.
Ms O’Byrne is said to have agreed to water down some of the most extreme provisions of her bill, but serious concerns remain. Pro-life counsellors such as pastors would still be required to refer any pregnant woman seeking advice to a counsellor who would include abortion in that advice – or risk a huge fine of up to $65,000. Protests of any kind – such as wearing a T-shirt saying “Choose life” – within 150 m of an abortion clinic could result in an even bigger penalty of up to $65,000 and/or one year in jail.
“This bill is nothing short of tyrannical,” Jim Collins said. “Whatever happened to free speech?
“Nearly 90% of submissions on this bill opposed abortion. There is a huge groundswell of public support for the prolife movement,” Mr Collins said.
“On 8 April, more than 330 people packed the Hobart Town Hall for an abortion law forum highlighting the serious flaws in Ms O’Byrne’s bill. Yesterday, more than 300 people including school students made their concerns about abortion heard.
We welcome Ms O’Byrne’s reported partial backdown – but she still fails to recognise that abortion takes the life of a living, moving, unborn baby. She also seems unaware of the latest evidence, published on 3 April 2013 in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, that abortion does not reduce mental health risks – rather, it is likely to increase them.
“This evidence indicates that our laws should seek to restrict access to abortion on health and safety grounds – not extend it.
“What is our health minister thinking?” Jim Collins said.
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