Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 5 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 1332 ..
MR OSBORNE (continuing):
Among the effects I hope this change will have is to stop at least some people from using our courts for lengthy and expensive interstate actions. It will also prevent people who suffer no discernible harm to their reputation from launching opportunistic legal actions based on Australia-wide electronic searches of newspaper databases. Mr Speaker, I commend this Bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries) adjourned.
MR OSBORNE (11.23): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to present the Health Regulation (Abortions) Bill 1998.
MR OSBORNE: I present the Health Regulation (Abortions) Bill 1998, together with its explanatory memorandum.
Title read by Clerk.
MR OSBORNE: I move:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
Mr Speaker, no generation in history has enjoyed the access to information that we take for granted. We are so accustomed to being informed that we demand information on things which our parents never questioned. And there is perhaps no area where our expectations for information are higher than on issues that concern our health. Last year in this place we passed a Bill that gave patients unprecedented access to their medical records, and we did it in the face of staunch opposition from the medical profession. We did it because we believed justice demanded that people had the right to view their own health records.
Another principle even more deeply embedded in our law is that of informed consent - that people undergoing any medical procedure have a right to know what risks they face. In 1992, in the case of Rogers v. Whittaker, Australia's High Court ruled that consent to any medical treatment was meaningless unless it was made on the basis of relevant information and advice. Given all that, Mr Speaker, why is it that there is one medical procedure - abortion - that is quarantined from the information revolution? Why are women who seek abortions being denied access to basic, critical, information about an intrusive procedure which not only has health implications but also can be a deeply traumatic experience? Why is there no reliable demographic data on abortion available, so that this community can have some idea how widespread the practice is? And why is it that, while every other medical procedure is shot around with legal requirements, the practice of abortion in the ACT proceeds without any meaningful regulation?