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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 353..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

which does not allow any separation of the mother and the foetus and concurrently support a law which allows the abortion of a foetus in whom you have invested the same legal rights as a person in being. It cannot be done, it is a fiction and it is what you seek to do. This parliament has removed the offence of abortion from the Criminal Code. This is your third attempt in two years to reverse, undo or open and divide in relation to the law in this place which decriminalised abortion. You should own up to that. You should be honest to the people of Canberra around your intention.

The bill which has been introduced by the government and which we are debating today is a law designed to protect pregnant women against assault-an odious offence-and it is appropriate that this community send the strongest possible signal that it will not tolerate assaults or attacks on pregnant women. The government has introduced a law which allows each of us to support that proposition and that concept without opening the difficult, the incredibly complex, the intractable issue around which, in this place alone, we will not have a meeting of the minds, and that is the issue of when life as a matter of law commences. We will never agree-and you know that we will never agree-because it goes to the heart of the law on abortion and a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. It goes to the heart of that debate and you know that those of us that support a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy can never, and will never, accept your formulation.

You can, however, as you have indicated you will, accept the law which the government has put on the table for dealing with this same issue of attacks on pregnant women. You have introduced a law which you know the government cannot accept or accede to because you know it goes to the heart of the debate and the moral complexities around the beginning of life. You know we cannot agree to it, you know we cannot accept it, because you know of our views in relation to pregnancy and a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. You know of our views because we legislated to remove abortion from the Criminal Code. You can, however, accept and support our legislation.

The debate that we are having now around abortion and the implications of your legislation is a debate which we should not be having, because it achieves nothing. It is divisive and it is essentially and inherently destructive. It is a backdoor attempt at reopening a complex and fraught debate which we have had and in relation to which this Assembly has legislated to the effect that we have removed abortion as an offence against the law in the ACT.

Debate interrupted in accordance with standing order 74 and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for a later hour.

Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.30 pm.

Questions without notice


MR SMYTH: My question is directed to the health minister, Mr Corbell. Minister, this month the Medical Journal of Australia carries an article from Professor Drew Richardson, which concludes:

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