Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 15 August 2018) . . Page.. 2910 ..
all the information they need to make an informed choice, to make an informed decision, to be able to ask all the questions they might want to ask in order to feel safe and protected? There are many people, particularly women, who can do this, but there are also some who cannot.
The same goes for the pharmacist who may have an ethical objection to discussing these sorts of reproductive matters. Everyone has a choice. Everyone deserves a choice.
There may be some members of this place who could be uncomfortable about discussing periods in public. I moved this motion because nobody should feel that way. The answer to awkwardness is not suppression, it is expression. As a young woman, I remember how embarrassing it was when you started to menstruate, when you got your first period. I remember it all too well, even though it was over 30 years ago. For some young women, it all starts out pretty normally. Well, you think it does, because generally you do not speak about it. Then they get heavier. It gets to a point where you are sitting in class, you feel that familiar rush, you cannot get up and leave, you know that your pants or skirt are stained, and you just have to deal with it.
Getting your period is difficult enough, but with them getting heavier, it is hard. A doctor advises to go on the pill, which often assists, but to be confronted by a pharmacist who does not agree with this choice can leave women conflicted and not knowing what to do or where to go. No-one needs this. No-one deserves this. People of all genders deserve the right to receive respectful advice from a pharmacist.
Earlier this year I spoke about National Condom Day. For those members who may have forgotten, it is on 14 February. As part of my speech I noted, from Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT, or SHFPACT, that the rates of gonorrhoea and syphilis are rising. The best way to combat STIs—or, for those who may not like acronyms, sexually transmitted infections—is to use a condom or dental dam. These are very simple and painless methods of protection, but if, when accessing them from your local pharmacy, you are confronted with negativity or humiliation, that is not on.
As members of the Legislative Assembly for the ACT, we have a place of leadership in the community. If we can put a sign on a pharmacist’s door, and a young person chooses to use that sign to find a pharmacist rather than being too embarrassed and ending up with syphilis, that is what I reckon leadership looks like.
I am not saying that pharmacists who do not want to give that advice should be forced to. If I did, the opposition would be able to fairly criticise the proposal as being a restraint of trade. I am saying that the pro-life should be out and proud with their position, so that those who want to buy what they do not want to see can seek it elsewhere: a free market at its best, where consumers are well informed.
This motion is about exercising freedom. Freedom for consumers to not feel embarrassed about asking for haemorrhoid cream, thrush treatment, condoms, dental dams, STI medication, the pill or the morning-after pill just makes sense.