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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2928..


MR BERRY (continuing):

It is disturbing to hear that members of the Legislative Assembly are moving to restrict women's access to safe, legal abortion in the ACT. This would be a dreadful step backwards and would inevitably cause a great deal of misery and hardship to many women.

It was very difficult in the 1950s when I had to seek an abortion. It was illegal, there was no counselling or information. You could not speak of it, let alone get help to terminate. There were good reasons why I could not marry then. I knew I could not continue with the pregnancy.

Old wives methods did not work, so I braced myself and went to three different doctors to ask for help, only to be rebuked with rigid moral lectures. I was humiliated. There was no alternative but to seek the services of a "backyard" abortionist. It was expensive, dangerous, secretive and terrifying.

Many women have died at the hands of backstreet abortionists, and I could have been one of them. I admire beyond words the courage of women and men who have worked against entrenched attitudes and laws in the area of birth control.

I wish the pro-choice campaign a successful outcome to the fight against the Osborne bill in the ACT.

Hazel Hawke signed that.

Mrs Carnell also went to the issue of information. I think her presentation was disingenuous, and I think the evidence will bear me out. Mrs Carnell went to a range of information brochures to back up her case for more information, that is, the imposition of information on women who have made a choice to have an abortion. Mrs Carnell was careful to avoid the APFA counselling standards, which I understand are used at the clinic in the ACT. Let me read to you part of them.

The experience of an unintended pregnancy is individual to each woman and the role of the counsellor is determined by the client's individual needs.

Good comment. I continue:

The requirements for support or counselling may vary depending on the woman's life circumstances and how she feels about her decision.

Very sensible statement. I continue:


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