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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 3859..


MRS BURKE (continuing):

and more about this, and this is why Mr Hargreaves can change his mind, and if Mr Wood were still here, he may have changed his mind too. There is continuing new evidence about the way that we look at the mental state of people in a variety of ways, especially in light of emerging evidence of the adverse medical and psychological outcomes abortions have on a woman. What about the time to inquire into some of these assertions? If they are wrong, that is fine. We should re-evaluate the effects of abortion on a woman.

I am also of the mind that it is the government's role to lead the way in making available any information that would assist a woman in making a decision about her health outcomes. Regardless of whether that is mandatory, we should have the information available. A woman should be able to choose to have that information available so she can be informed about her health outcomes. As I said, it is a pity that it was some Labor MLAs who took away that choice for women, which is against the very thing Mr Gentleman is now fighting for.

I do not consider that criminal sanctions are the solution—no way. I believe a woman does not take the decision to have an abortion lightly and needs, therefore, to be given proper support and information before taking the traumatic step of having an abortion. At the end of the day, I am of the mind that we should not legislate against life or death; I do not believe this is our role. I do believe that, in the case of abortion, such decisions have to be between the woman, her family and/or her medical practitioners. It is a decision that women need to make, but not in the absence of being fully informed.

Mr Speaker, on the balance of it, as you can hear—I have made my case clear—I cannot support this motion. In agreeing to Mr Gentleman's motion, we would be taking away, in effect, the woman's right to choose about the information. I know you will disagree, but I hope you will respect my views, as I respect your views. I appreciate what Mr Pratt has tried to do here, and I think that, on balance, I cannot accept Mr Gentleman's motion, and I will accept the amendment.

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (10.24): I thank members for their contributions. I will not be supporting Mr Pratt's amendment. This amendment removes the thrust of my motion, and it takes away the recognition of the ACT Assembly's progressive reform and the reaffirmation of those reforms.

Mr Stefaniak said tonight that he does not understand why this has been raised. The issue was raised by the Leader of the Opposition in the Canberra Times in a specific article on the leader's views leading up to the ACT election. The Leader of the Opposition raised this issue in the public arena by stating he is against abortion. Tonight, though, Mr Seselja failed to say whether he will protect a woman's right to choose or whether he is pro-life. You need to own your position, Mr Seselja. Stop trying to wriggle out of it. We all know it is a difficult issue, but we on this side are capable of articulating our position so the public know where we stand.

Labor understands that for hundreds of years women have been and continue to be discriminated against. Labor has a progressive program to address this, and I have been working in the community and with my colleagues and in this Assembly to remove discrimination in all forms. As a man, I have been outspoken on women's


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