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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2626..


Bill agreed to.

Maternal Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2002

Debate resumed from 5 June 2002, on motion by Mrs Dunne:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MS GALLAGHER (10.51): Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek guidance on whether, because of what happened earlier tonight, some of what is contained in Mrs Dunne's bill is no longer applicable.

Mr Hargreaves: Most of it is going to go. Just go to the coercion bit.

MS GALLAGHER: Okay. I will just make a couple of comments in relation to the part dealing with coercion. I will not be supporting Mrs Dunne's bill. In relation to the supposedly new crime of coercion, and I say "supposedly" because coercion has long been held up as a defence against a criminal penalty and as a negation of consent, Mrs Dunne's bill has no definition of coercion and no suggestion as to how coercion would be established under the act.

I am not convinced that this provision would provide women with any extra protection or that it would allow for personal interaction between a women, her partner, families and friends. It is interesting that the bill does not seek to protect women who are coerced into continuing with their pregnancy. I will not be supporting the bill.

Motion (by Mr Humphries ) put:

That the debate be adjourned.

The Assembly proceeding to a vote, the call for a vote was, by leave, withdrawn.

MS DUNDAS (10.55): I intend to oppose this bill. This bill perpetuates the view that abortion is fundamentally different from other kinds of medical procedures and requires special safeguards. As members of this Assembly would be aware by now, I do not agree. This bill appears to be founded on a belief that people working in abortion clinics encourage women to have abortions and that that should be a crime. The bill also implies that the provision of independent information will change women's minds. I think that both of these assumptions are completely false.

Consequently, I do not see the need for an offence of coercing a woman to have an abortion, nor do I think that it is necessary to require information to be given by someone other than a woman's doctor. As I said earlier this evening in relation to the repeal of the Osborne regulations, no-one seeks an abortion without having first fully evaluated their options. A decision to have an abortion is never one taken lightly and the information provisions in this bill could increase the trauma for women seeking abortions. As all members of this Assembly would be aware by now-


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