Page 2383 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022

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cost, the conscientious objections of health professionals or publicly funded health facilities, there is still more that we can do.

I welcome the announcement, as noted by Dr Paterson, of the Standing Committee on Health and Community Wellbeing to conduct an inquiry into abortion and reproductive choice in the ACT. I also encourage people to provide submissions by 15 August. As noted, we stand in solidarity. While we are shocked, angry and distressed, we also stand in determination that we will continue to be a parliament that prioritises the human rights of all people, provides them with the services and the care they need and supports them to be who they are, to live the lives that they need to live. Thank you.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (12.09): Can I also start by acknowledging the very powerful contribution to the debate today from Ms Lawder—very powerful and very personal. I really want to applaud the decision that you have taken today, particularly considering that you have never spoken publicly or privately about the conversations that you have had about giving this contribution today. It has been such a vital contribution to this debate.

I think it underlines some points in my speech—perhaps not all but certainly some—and particularly that our lives are shaped by our choices: the big choices and the little ones, the choices about our education, where we live, our jobs, our health care and our families. Being able to make meaningful choices about how we steer our lives is fundamental to our equality, our freedom and our human rights. Safe and accessible abortion is exactly that. It is about making sure that women can access the health care that they need to shape their lives and their family. There are myriad reasons why a woman may choose to terminate a pregnancy or choose not to terminate. It is not our place to judge her reasons or her choice. That is what all of this is fundamentally about: the choice about our bodies and the right to make choices about our bodies, for ourselves.

It was 20 years ago this month that Wayne Berry introduced that landmark legislation to decriminalise abortion, which passed with the notable vote of Helen Cross, whose memory we honoured this week. Mr Berry’s speech was powerful and sobering then, and it remains powerful and sobering now. I am also struck at just how prescient it was. In commenting on the legislation potentially passing, Mr Berry said:

Even if it passes tonight, this campaign will continue. We have to be vigilant about protecting well into the future any gains that are made. The campaign will not be over.

How right he was, Mr Deputy Speaker. Sadly, how right he was.

It is true that our abortion rights have been hard fought for, and hard won. But, sadly, we have also known all of this time that there are some forces, and indeed some individuals, who seek to remove those rights, who seek to control women’s bodies and their autonomy. That is why ACT Labor have been so strong and so clear in our support for women’s rights and choice. This has been reflected ever since 2002,

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