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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1901..


MRS DUNNE (continuing):

Cecilia told the doctor she had had second thoughts and did not want to go ahead. The doctor told her it was too late to go back, because she had already signed the consent form. Cecilia began to struggle. The doctor told those assisting him to hold her down. She called for help and, even then, was able to escape only after her boyfriend forced his way into the operating room and fought his way out, with Cecilia in tow.

I know the discovery that you are pregnant is a highly emotional experience, even when the child is wanted and welcome. Women in this emotional state look for support and stability, and are highly vulnerable to emotional blackmail, or worse. In these circumstances, the power balance in a relationship-the parent, the partner or the doctor-can in no way be described as equal. Women are making decisions which many of them will regret and which will affect them for the rest of their lives. These decisions are being made when they are in a highly emotional state, subject to far from subtle pressures from powerful players-by virtue of status or relationship-who have vested interests in the outcome of the decision. In this situation, women need all the protection they can get.

This amendment seeks to put an end to the situation where a woman is told that if she does not have an abortion, her husband or boyfriend will leave her and she will be without support. No longer can parents get away with threatening their daughters to turn them out of house and home unless they "get rid of it". No longer can an abortionist attempt to have a patient held down when she has second thoughts. All these would become offences under the Crimes Act.

Mr Speaker, even if you succeed in repealing the provisions in the Crimes Act relating to abortion, the crime of coercing someone to have an abortion will still stand. There are many things in life which are legal until one uses force to bring them about. It is legal for adults to have sex, but not to obtain it by force. It is legal to give someone money, but not to force them to give money to you. So even if it ceased to be a crime to perform an abortion, it could still be a crime to force a woman into it, by use of either physical or psychological means.

This bill aims to reinforce the protections we offer to women at an extremely vulnerable time. It aims to ensure they have a full range of options, and that they make their decision without pressure being afforded by friends, family or the provider of a service who stands to make money out of their decision. Its success would be a measure of the extent of our civil society. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Ms Gallagher ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Discrimination Amendment Bill 2002

Debate resumed from 15 May 2002, on motion by Mrs Cross:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for Women) (10.48): Mr Speaker, as I have previously indicated, the government supports the principle that discrimination on the basis of


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