A victory for free speech

July 19th, 2012 at 8:07 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Anti- group ProLife has been allowed to stay as a club within the Auckland University Students’ Association despite complaints the group was harassing vulnerable students on campus.

The association had received two complaints about pamphlets containing “misinformed” health information on abortions being distributed by the group, and of students feeling harassed.

The association held a meeting yesterday to decide whether the group should be disaffiliated.

There was heated debate during the meeting, which attracted about 300 people, and students eventually voted 225 to 117 to allow the club to stay within the association.

ProLife New Zealand spokeswoman Rachel Wong disputed the club had done anything wrong in the first place.

She said the association failed to communicate with the club after receiving an “anonymous” and “unsubstantiated” email complaint.

The Right to Know pamphlet carries the slogan: “Hands up if you’ve heard this before: Abortion is a safe, simple medical procedure.”

Wong said the pamphlets, distributed for two weeks in May, were not confrontational.

“For us, the main issue is freedom of speech. Clubs should be able to voice their opinions at uni and express their ideas.”

I’m very glad members voted against disaffiliating Prolife. A university campus especially should be tolerant of unpopular speech.

Some advice for Prolife though – having the right to do something, doesn’t mean it is a good idea to do it. Personally I think handing out pamphlets on the health risks of abortions to random female students is not a great idea. You have the right to do so, but I doubt that tactic helps your cause much.

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54 Responses to “A victory for free speech”

  1. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    Sorry, why isn’t it a good thing to do if they truly believe in the content of the pamphlet? How else can they get their message out other than directly when they are such an unfashionable group that would never get positive press in a million years?

    Case in point – it’s weird that Fairfax would characterise handing out pamphlets as harassement. Presumably the group weren’t actually forcing women to take the pamphlets unwillingless, or pressuring them to take them if they said “no, thanks”. After all, I’m pretty sure tha reporter wouldn’t call handing out Women’s Refuge’s “Help a women speak out” as harrassment.

    [DPF: I think most people will react badly to anyone giving them unsolicited advice on abortion - it is a deeply personal and difficult decision to make.]

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  2. alloytoo (526 comments) says:

    At the end of the day:

    “Much ado about nothing”

    Though as a general observation I must point out that “Truly believing.” something doesn’t make the world flat, or the earth the centre of the universe.

    “Truly believing” has zero effect on reality.

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  3. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Good outcome.

    Cato – I had some chap harass me on the plane this week. Tried to give me his copy of a Fairfax newspaper. I should have complained to the cabin staff :)

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  4. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    - alloytoo

    They have a true ethical belief. Not one that you or DPF share perhaps (or even myself necessarily) but nonetheless a sincere belief on their part I suspect.

    So how is that the same as believing or not believing in a true physical fact. Who has ‘proved’ that their ethical beliefs are incorrect as a matter of “objective” reality? If you don’t have a sound syllogism for why it’s wrong as a matter of fact and logic to believe that abortion is wrong, your statement would seem pretty arrogant.

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  5. David Garrett (7,005 comments) says:

    I’m with Cato on this..People try to hand me pieces of paper on the street all the time…less so in Auckland but certainly on the streets of Wellington. One is perfectly at liberty to say “no thanks”, or if that takes too much assertiveness, take it and throw it in the next bin as most people seem to do,

    And going where angels fear to tread…I’m sorry, but saying there are no “health risks” – in the wider sense – from abortion is a bit like the Prostitutes Collective doggedly maintaining that there hasn’t been a significant increase in street prostitution since the law was “reformed”.

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  6. Nookin (3,274 comments) says:

    kk
    If he was overly assertive they could have tossed him off the plane –AUSA style.

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  7. joana (1,983 comments) says:

    What would help their cause David?

    [DPF: They could organise debates on campus to raise awareness of the issues - those interested could come along.]

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  8. anonymouse (709 comments) says:

    I’m very glad AUSA members

    Except votes like this are hardly ever a reflection of general overall membership of a University Association,

    Such Meetings are usually stacked with partisan supporters from both sides, and it simply comes down to who can get more of their mates along,

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  9. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    “Personally I think handing out pamphlets on the health risks of abortions to random female students is not a great idea.”

    Arse. If abortion is so “OK” and pro-lifers are so “out-of-touch with modern society”, then why should this be an issue? Why should we be “concerned” about people’s “backwards” views on abortion if modern society thinks it’s not an issue.

    Usless of course abortion actually is an issue.

    I can see why Whaleoil calls DPF his “pinko mate”.

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  10. Jimbob (641 comments) says:

    A few years ago, research came out that showed a link between abortion and breast cancer. I am not sure if the findings still stand, but that surely is a health issue.

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  11. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    ProLife has focused on only one aspect of the debate. There may or may not be health effects from having an abortion. But why ignore the central question: what are the effects of NOT having an abortion? If ProLife want to be taken seriously, they might like to address that question.

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  12. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    PLNZ: “Would you like this pamphlet aboout the health risks of abortion?”

    Student: “No, thanks.”

    PLNZ: “Have a nice day.”

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  13. East Wellington Superhero (1,151 comments) says:

    @ ross69

    Most pro-lifers DO take the whole issue seriously. Most pro-life organisations have arms that offer support for pregnant woman who then choose to have an abortion, AND for women who choose to keep the baby – offering support after the birth. The key point is that pro-lifers recognise that pregnancy involves a mother AND a child. Not just a mother.

    Pro-choicers delude themselves, and tell themselves that pro-lifers hate women, and don’t care about those that would choose not to have an abortion.

    This view is wrong. Though it is convenient if you’re looking for an excuse not to face up to the issue of 16,000 aborted children per year.

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  14. Aredhel777 (290 comments) says:

    It’s nonsense that handing out pamphlets was a matter of harassment. Here’s how it went down. We stood in a group outside the General Library, got handed a stack of pamphlets, then as people walked past we said “Right to Know” (the title of the campaign), looked them in the eye and smiled at them. Most people took the pamphlet, and most who didn’t ignored us. If they ignored us, that was fine, we didn’t hassle them because we knew that our group was unpopular and we had to be on our best behaviour because of the negative stereotypes associated with prolifers. They just walked right on past. A couple of times we had random people we had never met come up and scream at us or use filthy words or call us anti-women. We never responded to that, just remained calm and quiet, but we’re the ones who get called up for harassment and misinformation??

    Nevertheless this was an awesome result and vindicates Prolife Auckland. I foresee more stuff like this, however, because the AUSA is a clique of lefty nutcases with an agenda to ban people they don’t like and they won’t give up so easily. LifeChoice Sydney is having similar problems in Australia at the moment, too.

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  15. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Cato

    PLNZ: “Would you like this pamphlet aboout the health risks of abortion?”

    Student: “No, thanks.”

    PLNZ: “Have a nice day then, but you will burn in hell.”

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  16. Aredhel777 (290 comments) says:

    Don’t be ridiculous, mikenmild. We never said anything of the sort. Prolife Auckland is a strictly secular club as it says on the website and there is no way we would say anything like that even if we believed it, because we make a point of not reinforcing that sort of stereotype about our movement.

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  17. Mark (1,474 comments) says:

    [DPF: I think most people will react badly to anyone giving them unsolicited advice on abortion - it is a deeply personal and difficult decision to make.]

    Happened to a friends daughter who was pregnant. Went to the adoption unit at MSD for assistance and advice and abortion was put on the table unsolicited. it works both ways.

    [DPF: I agree]

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  18. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    Sure… secular organization…we’re all religious social conservatives but of the “secular” variety. :)

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  19. Weihana (4,496 comments) says:

    I’m glad you guys retained affiliation. Personally I don’t see why the union gets to monopolize the resources of the university. But in any case I think you guys really should listen to David. Unsolicited advice for something so personal tends to turn people off. A debate would be a better idea though that involves having an opponent who may limit the impact of your message utilizing superior argument.

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  20. Cato (1,095 comments) says:

    @ mikenmild and 10:32 – I agree that would be distressing. But is that what actually happened or are you just slandering the pro-life group?

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  21. Paulus (2,603 comments) says:

    My Granddaughter voted for FREE SPEECH, having favoured neither standpoint. Am proud.

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  22. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I’m just slandering them, that’s all, but I find Aredhel’s comment revealing ‘there is no way we would say anything like that even if we believed it’.

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  23. cha (3,935 comments) says:

    Prolife Auckland is a strictly secular club as it says on the website

    Liar.

    http://www.who.is/whois/prolife.org.nz/

    registrant_contact_name: Andrew Moore
    registrant_contact_address1: 7 Wiltshire Mews
    registrant_contact_address2: Avonhead
    registrant_contact_city: Christchurch
    registrant_contact_country: NZ (NEW ZEALAND)
    registrant_contact_phone: +64 21 1140751
    registrant_contact_email: andy@equipbiz.co.nz

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  24. scrubone (3,092 comments) says:

    Happened to a friends daughter who was pregnant. Went to the adoption unit at MSD for assistance and advice and abortion was put on the table unsolicited. it works both ways.

    Someone I know was very heavily pressured – to the point they felt it was being almost forced on them. I think she was even reduced to tears.

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  25. scrubone (3,092 comments) says:

    cha: That comment says more about you than about anyone or anything else here.

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  26. Keeping Stock (10,273 comments) says:

    @ cha – you seem to be confusing ProLife Auckland with ProLife New Zealand. Their goal may be the same, but they are not one and the same.

    But congratulations to ProLife Auckland for winning yesterday’s vote, and for exposing the hypocrisy of the AUSA. Better still, they didn’t have to spend students’ funds to put on a BBQ to get enough people for a quorum as the AUSA did.

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  27. cha (3,935 comments) says:

    Their blog shares a domain held by a prolifeNZ which is registered to a Taliban member Andy Moore but they’re different, how?.

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  28. scrubone (3,092 comments) says:

    Cha – your point is that Andy can’t setup a secular web site.

    And on that utter absurdity you claim some one is a liar?

    Like I said, that says a lot more about you than anyone else.

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  29. cha (3,935 comments) says:

    Well he is the registrant but according to your logic although Farrar is the registrant of KB he may not own it.

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  30. scrubone (3,092 comments) says:

    Things are either secular or sacred.

    Your point seems to be that anything Andy touches is sacred. That’s a very amusing thought I must say, not even Brian Tamaki makes that claim :D

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  31. alloytoo (526 comments) says:

    Cato

    ‘”Who has ‘proved’ that their ethical beliefs are incorrect as a matter of “objective” reality?’
    If you don’t have a sound syllogism for why it’s wrong as a matter of fact and logic to believe that abortion is wrong, your statement would seem pretty arrogant.”

    It’s neither wrong nor right to believe anything, their “belief” carries no weight with reality.

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  32. Other_Andy (2,577 comments) says:

    @Aredhel777
    Feminists used to stand up for the rights of women to make their own decisions.
    Unfortunately this is no longer the case as it seems that some of them don’t think women can be trusted to do this.
    Post-modern feminists now decide what is best for women according to their political views.
    It is good to see that some women, like you, are not cowed by this group.
    Good on you.

    As for DPF
    “I think most people will react badly to anyone giving them unsolicited advice on abortion – it is a deeply personal and difficult decision to make.”

    Yes, for most women it would be a deeply personal and difficult decision to make. That is why it is so important that they have ALL the information and options available. I think it is unethical to prevent women from accessing ALL the information that is available.
    ALL medical procedures involve risks, including abortions and child birth, and women should be advised of this. Apart from physical risks, there is also the psychological damage that can occur when women are coerced in making a decision that they will later regret when presented with all the options.

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  33. barry (1,317 comments) says:

    alloytoo (19) Says:
    July 19th, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Could you PLEASE go talk to the climate alarmists and tell them about the error of their ways when they talk about ‘Believers’………..

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  34. kowtow (8,212 comments) says:

    A pattern is emerging from the “liberals” around here.

    “This is the law of the land,or a right or a matter of choice or this matter is settled etc You are no longer allowed to disagree so shut up. And if you do disagree and happen to on religiuos grounds you are more especially not entitled to a viewpoint because it is insane”.

    Freedom to disagree is in grave danger and therefore democracy is too.Interestingly on the post about Barnett.imp says Barnett was working on so called “hate speech” when he left.

    Now that should frighten all of us.

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  35. Harriet (4,800 comments) says:

    We must never remain silent about gross injustice. And surely the killing of unborn babies is among the most unjust action there is.

    As Abraham Lincoln once said: “Silence makes cowards out of the best of men.”

    Or as Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel had put it, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

    That is most certainly true in the abortion debate.

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  36. Harriet (4,800 comments) says:

    kowtow#

    “…..Barnett was working on so called “hate speech” when he left….”

    I hope for the sake of his public profile amongst fags, niggers and bitches that the dumb fuck took wit into account! :cool:

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  37. kowtow (8,212 comments) says:

    Harriet

    You can be sure that when Aotearoa gets it’s hate speech laws the exemptions are going to go in only one direction,and it ain’t going to be funny.:(

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  38. Harriet (4,800 comments) says:

    Kowtow

    It’ll never happen- we’ll then be able to burn all the feminist books! :cool:

    “The male is a domestic animal which, if treated with firmness…can be trained to do most things.”
    Jilly Cooper, SCUM (Society For Cutting Up Men.)

    If we can’t say things, then we are of course, not also allowed to read them.

    http://www.fatherhoodcoalition.org/cpf/newreadings/2001/feminist_hate_speech.htm

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  39. RRM (9,786 comments) says:

    Tweedledum:The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog, Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet…

    Tweedledee:I think what you just said was a really, really shit thing to say, Tweedledum.

    Tweedledum:THEY ARE TRAMPLING ON MY RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH!!!

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  40. kowtow (8,212 comments) says:

    tweedle leedle leedle

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9268852/Law-banning-insulting-language-is-strangling-free-speech.html

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  41. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > The key point is that pro-lifers recognise that pregnancy involves a mother AND a child

    So there’s no involvement for the father? That tells me a lot about pro-lifers, though how you can speak for all of them is quite beyond me.

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  42. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    The pamphlet is here http://prolife.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/RTK.pdf

    It’s not a terribly well written diatribe. Abortion can “cause” death, even though there have been no deaths in NZ from abortion. What ProLife conveniently ignore is that some women (and their newborns) have died during child birth. The pamphlet also says that abortion can result in an “increased risk” of mental health problems. Not sure how that conclusion is drawn – no research is quoted. However, again, the fact that some mothers have mental health problems is ignored.

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  43. Michael Mckee (1,091 comments) says:

    cha (1,512) Says:
    July 19th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    hey cha lets have all your personal details up here as well then.

    Taliban?
    That says more about your character than anything else.
    shame on you.

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  44. The Hoff (17 comments) says:

    @ross69,

    If you read the pamphlet you’ll see that it actually DOES state in black and white that no female has yet died from abortion here in New Zealand – so nothing at all misleading there.

    Also, if you read the pamphlet carefully you’ll see that it actually references research from NZ’s very own Professor David Fergusson at the Christchurch School of Medicine (he’s an agnostic pro-choicer by the way) in support of the claims it makes about the mental health risks that can result from abortion.

    Maybe you didn’t read those bits of the pamphlet in your haste to post a comment here…

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  45. The Hoff (17 comments) says:

    What cha hasn’t bothered to post here (probably because cha is ignorant of these facts) is that Andy Moore is no longer involved with Prolife NZ – he was it’s founder, but he hasn’t had any involvement with them for a couple of years now, and after his departure Prolife NZ adopted a completely new ethos that DOES NOT involve any of the radical activism (showing large graphic images of aborted fetuses, picketing abortion clinics, etc) that Andy Moore was keen on.

    Also, last time I checked Andy Moore now lives in the USA.

    I guess no one at Prolife NZ had bothered to update their website details since Andy Moore’s departure.

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  46. chiz (1,132 comments) says:

    Jimbob:A few years ago, research came out that showed a link between abortion and breast cancer. I am not sure if the findings still stand, but that surely is a health issue.

    The finding doesn’t stand. There is no link between abortion and breast cancer.

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  47. kowtow (8,212 comments) says:

    And if chiz says so it must be right!So there.

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  48. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    Abortion can “cause” death

    It is guaranteed to cause death. Thanks mum for choosing to give me life.

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  49. chiz (1,132 comments) says:

    You are free at any stage to look up pubmed or google scholar yourself kowtow.

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  50. chiz (1,132 comments) says:

    Misinformation on abortion:

    OBJECTIVE:

    To find the latest and most accurate information on aspects of induced abortion.
    METHODS:

    A literature survey was carried out in which five aspects of abortion were scrutinised: risk to life, risk of breast cancer, risk to mental health, risk to future fertility, and fetal pain.
    FINDINGS:

    Abortion is clearly safer than childbirth. There is no evidence of an association between abortion and breast cancer. Women who have abortions are not at increased risk of mental health problems over and above women who deliver an unwanted pregnancy. There is no negative effect of abortion on a woman’s subsequent fertility. It is not possible for a fetus to perceive pain before 24 weeks’ gestation. Misinformation on abortion is widespread. Literature and websites are cited to demonstrate how data have been manipulated and misquoted or just ignored. Citation of non-peer reviewed articles is also common. Mandates insisting on provision of inaccurate information in some US State laws are presented. Attention is drawn to how women can be misled by Crisis Pregnancy Centres.
    CONCLUSION:

    There is extensive promulgation of misinformation on abortion by those who oppose abortion. Much of this misinformation is based on distorted interpretation of the scientific literature.

    Source:Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2011 Aug;16(4):233-40. Epub 2011 May 11.

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  51. chiz (1,132 comments) says:

    Another link:

    Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Jun;113(6):1417-8.
    ACOG Committee Opinion No. 434: induced abortion and breast cancer risk.
    Committee on Gynecologic Practice.
    Abstract

    The Relationship between induced abortion and the subsequent development of breast cancer has been the subject of a substantial amount of epidemiologic study. Early studies of the relationship between prior induced abortion and breast cancer risk were methodologically flawed. More rigorous recent studies demonstrate no causal relationship between induced abortion and a subsequent increase in breast cancer risk.

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  52. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    The Hoff

    The Fergusson study found that abortion’s effects on mental health were small. It seems the writer of the pamphlet over-stated the case against abortion. That suggests that the writer might be morally or ethically opposed to abortion. It would be useful if ProLife stated why they oppose abortion, lest they be accused of trying to falsify the research evidence to support their tenuous conclusions.

    http://www.abortionreview.org/index.php/site/article/453/

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  53. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    Other studies have shown that abortion has a neutral effect on mental health. One wonders why ProLife didn’t cite these studies. It is little wonder that AUSA don’t want a bar of ProLife.

    http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/195/1/83.1.full

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  54. MikeE (555 comments) says:

    Fairer to say there is a link between unwanted pregnacy and mental health (i.e. depression) due to changes in life that are unwanted etc.. rather than abortion (or having a child that was unplanned)..

    of course that suits neither side of the argument..

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