Publication Details

Albury, R, Too Many, Too Late and the Adoption Alternative: Shame and Recent Abortion Debates, Public Policy Network Summer Conference 2007, Adelaide, 1-2 February 2007, 1-16. Original conference information available here


A speech in Adelaide in March 2004 and the decisive vote about the regulation of RU486 provide significant marker events in the most recent Australian debate about abortion policy. In Australia abortion is both regulated by the States, most often through the criminal law, and funded through Medicare by the Australian government. A socially conservative campaign against abortion lead by Tony Abbott, Minister for Health was an attempt to intervene in the popular compromise which seems to both recognise the seriousness of abortion decisions and maintain accessibility; moving people holding views in the middle ground toward a position supporting a restriction of the availability of abortion services. The campaign appealed to a sense of shame about the number of abortions, the timing of some abortions and the use of public funding for abortions that were not medically necessary. This paper will consider three stages within the debate to explore the usefulness of shame as an analytic concept to explain the deeper affect behind the reasons offered for conservative policy positions regarding sexuality: Abbott's speech in 2004, the concerns about late-term abortion following the 2004 election and the unexpected drama of the reporting of the meeting between Abbott and the man he assumed was his son in early 2005.