Page 2385 - Week 07 - Thursday, 4 August 2022
contribution to this debate and the contribution that she has made in sharing her own story. As others have said, it is one that powerfully illustrates why we are having this debate today.
I am proud to stand with other members in solidarity with the people of the United States, following the huge step backwards in fundamental human rights that the overturning of Roe v Wade in the United States Supreme Court represents. As someone who lived in the United States for almost four years, I am conscious that this decision will potentially affect the young people with whom I shared a classroom and the families I worked alongside. I worked alongside advocates and community organisers to support in Washington DC.
We also know that this decision has, as others have said, reverberated around the world. Feminists everywhere have been horrified that fundamental healthcare rights have been stripped away and that American women and people who can become pregnant will once again be criminalised and their health and lives put at risk, with the inevitable continuation of people seeking to end an unwanted pregnancy but being unable to do so safely.
However, we know that the progressive side of politics, the side of the feminists and campaigners that achieved this freedom across many countries, will continue the fight to restore this right, undo this injustice and ensure once again that women and people who can get pregnant do not have to run the extraordinary risks to themselves of unsafe, unregulated services. Sometimes moments like these that occur on the other side of the world provide the opportunity to reflect on local arrangements and local values and to ensure that we, as a government and as representatives of our community, are living up to them.
The ACT government believes that it is a person’s right to choose. This position was formalised in law 20 years ago by Labor minister Wayne Berry, as the Deputy Chief Minister has spoken about with such pride. Decriminalising abortion was an important ratification of women’s rights. I am really proud that the ACT was one of the first jurisdictions to remove abortion from criminal law and that this change was driven by ACT Labor. As Ms Cheyne has noted, however, other jurisdictions have taken much longer to reach this point and the debate has not concluded in some.
I am also proud that successive ACT Labor governments have continued the reform to improve the accessibility and affordability of abortion services. To further minimise barriers to accessing abortions in the ACT, in 2016 the ACT Labor government introduced legislation to ensure patient privacy by implementing protected areas, commonly known as exclusion zones, outside abortion clinics. This was designed to protect the people who are seeking an abortion from harassment and intimidation. Ms Lawder has eloquently described why this was so important.
The legislation prohibits anti-abortion protesters from engaging in prohibited behaviour, such as protests or capturing visual data, that may otherwise prevent a person from entering a facility or having an abortion. The changes were made because we know that people who have made the very difficult decision to have an abortion have the right to access the required services without being forced to endure the