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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3848 ..

movement have fought for many years, to allow women to continue to be able to access abortion when they choose, to make it safe, to make it accessible and to make it affordable. The bill and the government amendments to the bill today go a long way to ensuring that that is the case. I am proud to be standing in this chamber today being able to vote on a piece of legislation that will have such a profound impact on the lives of women in this territory and in my community.

I feel lucky and privileged to be able to allow women the right to make a choice to protect themselves and their lives. I am really lucky: I have two beautiful boys. I thank—I do not believe in God, but I thank them every day that they are part of my life. I could not have had a third child. I was in a relationship that would not have been conducive to that third child coming into this world. It would not have been beneficial for me, it would not have been beneficial for that child and it would not have been beneficial for my other two children.

Not once have I regretted my decision about having that abortion. I hope that women out there today hear what I am saying and know that it is okay and that there is no stigma attached to needing or wanting to access abortion services. I look forward to hearing other members speak on this important matter today. I thank everyone who has spoken in the debate thus far for the respectful debate and the respectful way in which this has been conducted. I commend the government amendments to the bill.

MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (6.08): Our commitment as a government to a better Canberra means delivering policies that reflect our community’s progressive values. It is for that reason that I rise today to support this bill and, more particularly, the government’s amendments, reaffirming the government’s proud, consistent commitment over our terms of government to the rights of women as autonomous individuals to make choices regarding their own reproductive health.

I acknowledge and thank Ms Le Couteur for her work in bringing forward this bill but also the work of Minister Fitzharris in bringing forward the amendments on behalf of the government. I also acknowledge the review that the Minister for Health and Wellbeing initiated into abortion services in the ACT last year.

Women have always had abortions and they always will. But it is 2018 and we do need to seriously reflect on the barriers that still exist, like distance and like cost, which are denying women the choice of a safe abortion. Denying women a safe abortion is naive and it is dangerous. So as a government we do need to take a role. We have been proud leaders in this space to ensure that barriers to accessing abortion services be removed. By doing so we are recognising the rights of women, these fundamental rights, to seek health services where, simply, they may need to.

This bill does make some very important changes. I think that they are going to make a genuine difference to the lives of women across the ACT, for the better. The changes do reduce risks and they do reduce discrimination. With the amendments, I think the bill does strike the right balance between affording women choice and also assuring them of safety.

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