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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 19 September 2018) . . Page.. 3849 ..

I acknowledge and support that the government intends to take some time to implement this bill to get it right, and I understand that the relevant stakeholders, both GPs and pharmacists, have welcomed this. That said, I also understand that the intention is not to delay the implementation any longer than is necessary and that the government will be working very closely with these stakeholders to ensure that this can happen smoothly.

I do appreciate that this remains a conscience issue for the opposition, as their leader has stated today and stated in the past. But I cannot let it go without saying that I still find it disappointing that there is no policy from them on an issue that is fundamentally about the rights of 50 per cent of the population. Being pro-choice is about choice, choice over your own body. It still defies belief, to me, given that it is a conscience issue, just like it is a conscience issue for women over their own bodies, that the Canberra Liberals could not take a position of being pro-choice and supporting this service.

I certainly do, that said, respect the shadow health minister’s views and also echo Ms Cody in noting that this is a very emotive issue for many people but that the debate here today has been incredibly respectful. It just does come down, as we have heard today, to choice and to making sure that the barriers to that choice are reduced so that safety can be improved and so that women can continue to operate as autonomous individuals and have choices over the decisions in their lives and choices over the things that happen to them in their lives. I commend the bill, with the amendments, to the Assembly.

MR HANSON (Murrumbidgee) (6.13): I be supporting this legislation, but that is not actually why I want to speak. I just want to thank members opposite for their words. I think it is very important on these matters that we have respectful debate. The way that the members opposite have conducted themselves here, I commend and thank them for. I think we are better for it. These are difficult issues on both sides of the debate. Certainly, Ms Cody, some of the things you shared—it must have been very brave to do that. I thank you for treating this issue with the sensitivity and respect that it deserves.

MS LAWDER (Brindabella) (6.13): As the Leader of the Opposition has already stated, we treat the matter of abortion as a conscience issue in the Liberal Party. That absolutely aligns with what has been said by others in the place. It is about choice. The Liberal Party believes strongly in personal choice and gives us the opportunity to express our conscience.

It is probably no surprise to anyone in this place that I always have supported and always will support women’s reproductive rights. I think my commitment to that was forged quite some time ago when I lived in the United States in the 1980s, at a time when abortion clinics were picketed by hundreds of people throwing pigs’ blood, burning cars and in some cases murdering doctors. It was an intensely frightening time. It meant that women who had chosen to have a termination were confronted at every step on that intensely personal and difficult choice. It was a confronting, challenging and frightening experience for them to go through.

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