A recent survey of 1873 electors in Australia showed that 57% of them support a woman's right to have an abortion "readily when they want one". The results of the survey suggest that a minority is dictating government policy on the legality of abortion in Australia generally, and in the states specifically. Victoria and the ACT have decriminalized abortion. WA has amended its laws. All other states and territories have abortion provisions on their criminal statute books.
It appears that politicians are more concerned about being seen to be pro-abortion than they are about being seen to be pro-women's rights.
Consequently, any moves towards decriminalizing abortion have been hampered by minority groups. So, perhaps democracy is not always as simple as the majority imposing their will on the minority. It would seem that in some debates that the minority quite often punches above its weight.
However, it is worth noting that in a similar survey from 20 years ago, the percentage of those that agreed with a woman's right to have an abortion if, and when, she wanted one was only 38% percent.
Queensland, according to the survey results, is the most pro-abortion state, with some 63% of respondents saying they favoured a woman's right to have an abortion. This is interesting because Queensland is currently pursuing a young couple who procured a miscarriage (sometimes reported as an abortion) by acquiring the drug RU 486 (this is not the morning after pill). What makes this interesting is that the young woman being charged is thought to be the first woman in more than 50 years to be charge with procuring her own miscarriage.
The actions of the woman and her boyfriend are illegal because RU 486 is only available at a limited number of medical practitioners. The RU 486 that was used in this case was sourced from overseas.
The abortion debate is an interesting one in Australia considering the studies show that growing majorities in the primary voting demographics support a woman's right to an abortion. This makes the arguments usually put forward by politicians that the electorate is not in support of a move towards decriminalization, wrong. Even more interesting is research that suggest more than 75% of politicians themselves are pro-choice.
The current study is available in the journal People and Place and published by the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University.