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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 3 Hansard (10 March) . . Page.. 982..

Mr Corbell (continuing):

Belconnen block 13, section 32-Land Auction-Lot 4-Answer to question without notice asked of Mr Corbell by Ms Dundas and taken on notice on 9 March 2004.

Personal explanation

MR CORNWELL (3.23): During question time the Attorney-General implied that I have taken no interest in the matter of the Community Advocate and the family services issue. In response to that, I refer members to the transcript of evidence of the CSSE committee of 21 February 2003, 27 February 2003, 4 December 2003 and 22 January 2004.

Crimes Amendment Bill 2002

Debate resumed.

MR PRATT (3.24), in reply: The passing of the Crimes (Abolition of Offence of Abortion) Amendment Bill 2001 opened loopholes that will allow the injury, manslaughter, unlawful killing or murder of an unborn child during an assault on its mother to go unpunished. The decriminalisation of abortion did not recognise and defend the provision in the legislation that made it possible to hold an assailant responsible for the loss of an unborn child. For example, if a mugger assaults a pregnant woman and the child is injured or killed as a result, should someone not be held accountable? If a person recklessly assaults their pregnant partner, leading to injury or death of the child, should someone not be held accountable?

There are a number of key features in the Crimes Amendment Bill 2002, which refers to the protection of unborn children, that we are debating today which make it very clear that lawful abortions in the ACT are recognised and sanctioned from the provisions of this bill. However, it does not allow reckless or knowing assaults on pregnant women to be sanctioned. In addition, it does not allow criminal offences against pregnant women, whether they be reckless or not, to be sanctioned. The bill does not go against the Crimes (Abolition of Offence of Abortion) Amendment Bill 2001.

The bill clearly excludes lawful abortions and enshrines the acknowledgment of lawful abortions in the Crimes Act. In addition, the bill provides that it does not apply to anything done by a pregnant woman in relation to her unborn child. These are two vital elements deliberately designed to separate the issues surrounding this bill from issues surrounding the abortion debate. The Crimes Amendment Bill 2002 is not an attempt to revisit or undermine the decision made by this Assembly in relation to abortions.

So concerned are we to close this loophole to protect the unborn that I have bent over backwards to exclude all mechanisms relevant to abortion, medical accidents or anything of that nature. Members in this place know that this legislation is not about abortion-they know this is not an exercise going down that track. The so-called abortion connection cannot be used as an excuse to recognise and support the legal technicalities argument here to close the loophole and to protect the unborn.

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