The Australian MP Geoff Shaw has incurred the wrath of women’s rights groups across the world by comparing abortion to killing snake eggs while discussing his bill to radically overhaul abortion laws in Victoria.
Mr Shaw called for doctors to provide pain relief for foetuses during procedures, and for medics to resuscitate babies who survive abortion attempts in an interview with the Herald Sun.
He will put forward his bill to State Parliament, which would also ban partial-birth and gender selection terminations.
The independent MP for Frankston claimed abortion laws in Victoria are among some of the worst in the world, and asked why society is “killing” female foetuses when “we are saying there should be more women on boards [and] there should be more females in parliament.”
Mr Shaw, a staunch Christian who insisted he was simply “sticking up for women”, argued: “Here in Australia we can’t kill snake eggs but we are quite happy to kill an egg in the tummy and it should be the safest place for a baby to be.
“How can any women who are pro-women’s rights say that you can kill girls?”
However, his unfortunate use of ‘tummy’ appeared to undermine his argument, instead placing him at the centre of Twitter ridicule, with the hashtag #tummyeggs quickly gathering momentum across social media.
Are there recipes for #TUMMYEGGS? Like, fried with an extra helping of misogyny?; Lady Van Badham (@vanbadham) May 8, 2014
Pffft! Any idiot know the eggs are grown from an egg-plant. #tummyeggs; Tutch Too Mutchness (@ajmutchness) May 8, 2014
Should it be passed, Mr Shaw's bill could result in the most severe changes to abortion law since the procedure was decriminalised in 2008.
The executive director of Women's Health Victoria, Rita Butera, said Mr Shaw’s views were founded upon "myths and misconceptions".
"We also have a very good law when it comes to conscientious objection which respects a physician's beliefs while ensuring women have access to safe and unbiased medical attention,” Ms Butera told Guardian Australia.
"I can't even bring myself to comment on a lot of what he's said. He keeps trying to distract from the need to provide health services for women and I don't know what his motives are. He's an individual man. I'm confident that the premier will not entertain any changes to the law and understand that this issue is about a woman's choice."
In December last year, the Liberal State Council passed a motion to allow doctors to refuse to refer patients to pro-abortion specialists. Premier Denis Napthine, who trained to be a veterinarian before entering politics, slammed the move in a video, to which Mr Shaw responded with: “You would think a vet might understand when life begins.”