UPPER Hunter MP Michael Johnsen has referred to his life as an adopted child in explaining his controversial social media posts linking the Black Lives Matter marches to last year's Abortion Law Reform Act.
He also referred to concerns he says are felt felt by a lot of older Australians, saying: "What the world knows is right, these people seem to want to make it wrong, and vice versa."
As reported yesterday, a Facebook post (below) by the National Party MP attracted more than 560 comments on its first day, many of them hostile.
Some supporters congratulated him for his stance, and comments had topped 700 by last night.
Mr Johnsen had prepared a speech in case of a censure motion in state parliament, in which he again linked the Black Lives Matter marches to abortion law, including a "safe access" Bill being debated in South Australia.
"I note the South Australian Parliament is moving their safe access zone bill today," Mr Johnsen said.
"Let this house note the hypocrisy of the left demanding to be allowed to protest in a pandemic, while taking away the rights of the pro-life movement to protest at all."
Mr Johnsen also referred to a speech he made in August last year, opposing the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill, which became the Abortion Law Reform Act when passed by the parliament in October.
I know about my mother's and father's story because I was adopted by an auntie and uncle. I had the good fortune of having a wonderful relationship with my maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles. I am so glad I did and that my adopted parents gave me the opportunity to have that contact.Upper Hunter MLA Michael Johnsen in parliament in August 2019
"Abortion is real and warranted in circumstances - and members have mentioned many instances - for example, where rape or domestic violence and other issues have been central to why a female may have become pregnant," Mr Johnsen said.
He then went on to talk about his own life, saying his biological father was "an alcoholic with all sorts of issues", while his biological mother had "miscarried before giving birth to me and after me she lost another child at six weeks of age through sudden infant death syndrome, or cot death".
"My mother would have struggled with the issue of 'do I or don't I abort'," Mr Johnsen said.
"And rightly so. She made her decision, rightly or wrongly. As a result, I was adopted and not aborted."
This week, Mr Johnsen said: "I hold a strongly pro-life view, and I respect the law, and I go with what the law says, but some people are just indifferent to lives lost every year due to the termination process.
"Black lives, which equally matter every bit as much, are similarly worthy of support and our continued efforts to achieve justice and opportunity for our indigenous brothers and sisters.
"I do not cherry-pick my respect for human life."
The NewcastleHerald was unable to obtain comment yesterday from organisers of the Newcastle Black Lives Matter rally on Saturday, June 6, which attracted an estimated 5000 people and was described by police as the biggest protest seen in the city for many years.
Despite Mr Johnsen's insistence that he respected all lives equally, the Black Lives Matter movement and other progressive voices say this ignores the reality that black people and people of colour live in such obvious disadvantage that even if white people say they believe "all lives matter", they are doing nothing, or not enough, to help correct the systemic imbalance.
As one white Unitarian minister told the US publication Vox in 2016: "As a white man, I have never been followed by security in a department store, or been stopped by police for driving through a neighbourhood in which I didn't live.
"My African American friends have, almost to a person, had these experiences."
From an Australian perspective, one Facebook poster, James Ladwig, told Mr Johnsen: "Why deny the legitimacy of naming the historical reality that racism in Australia has and continues to treat Aboriginal folks, and other people of colour, as if their lives don't matter?
"Why link this issue to an entirely different issue / debate?"
But others said the link was legitimate.
Francis Young said: "Many African American commentators including Martin Luther King's descendants have been making the same point, that all black lives matter, and abortion disproportionately takes more black lives per capita.
"The claim that you are conflating two issues is spurious.
"The reality is that you are being inclusive, while your accusers are arbitrarily excising some black lives from the issue."
Mr Johnsen said he enjoyed the legitimate debate, but not the abuse, which reflected the mindset of those making them.
"I will continue to defend freedom of speech, even for those who wish to limit that of others," Mr Johnsen said.