About - Dr Joanna Howe

About Dr Joanna Howe

One day, when I was 21, a friend challenged me on the issue of abortion and although I didn’t concede anything in that conversation, the questions he asked me were ones I couldn’t answer. Questions like, “if an in-utero baby isn’t a human being, then what is it?” and “if an in-utero human being isn’t alive, then why is it growing?”  

And the clincher: “under what circumstances, if ever, is it acceptable to kill a human being?”

At the time I was working for the Australian Workers Union in Melbourne and I had the luxury of my own office with a closed door. In my lunch break I began researching abortion and read journal articles like this one. Although I was surprised to discover the barbaric and violent nature of abortion procedures, it was the photos of aborted fetuses which shocked me to the core. In coming face to face with the humanity of these babies, I knew I could no longer be prochoice.

Despite this realisation, it took me nearly two decades to find the courage to speak out against abortion in the public square. I knew that to do so would be likely career suicide because of the powerful coalition between the abortion lobby, the media and the pro-abortion Emily’s List in the political realm. 

My wakeup call came when my home state of South Australia legislated abortion up to birth and on demand in 2021. I knew I could no longer stay silent. I had given birth to my second child at 37 weeks and knowing that a healthy baby with a physically healthy mum had been killed at that same gestation in Victoria under similar laws was something I could not block out. I knew that I had to put aside my fears and career ambitions for the sake of a cause that was far more important.  

Speaking up on abortion has been transformative for me. I feel like I have found my voice on an issue that I have wanted to speak about for so long. I have been overwhelmed by the support that I have received from so many Australians and I have found an inner courage to withstand the concerted attempts to discredit me and get me sacked by a former President of the Australian Women’s Lawyers Association and The Advertiser newspaper. 

To my great surprise, my career has gone gangbusters since speaking out about abortion. I am proud to work for a University that has spoken publicly in defence of my rights to academic freedom and freedom of speech and even promoted me to the position of Professor!

My goal is not to bulldoze you into agreeing with me on the issue of abortion. Far from it. I believe that everyone has the right to their opinion and I don’t judge anyone for being pro-choice or for having had an abortion. Some of my closest friends have had abortions. 

I hope that by using my experience as a researcher, I can shed light on abortion in Australia and draw attention to the facts and the data. 

My goal is not to make abortion unthinkable because we know that it kills a human being and it harms her mother. I am fighting for an Australia where we recognise the human rights of babies in-utero and gives concrete and meaningful support to pregnant women.