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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2849 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I believe that if the additional information that Mr Osborne seeks to have provided in the material that is available saved just one life in that period - deferred or stopped one abortion - that would be a tremendous outcome. I do not believe that we should postpone, adjourn or delay this any further. If members wanted to send it to a committee, and I do not, they could use standing order 174, which provides that, after a Bill has been agreed in principle, a member may move that the Bill be referred to a select or standing committee. I also do not believe that that would be appropriate, but that option would be there for those that would like to take that path.

I think that we need to press to conclusion on this, certainly to protect the women involved and most certainly to protect the unborn who are at gravest risk here. It is always the case that the abortion debate is one about choice; it is never about the life of the unborn. I think we all need to focus on that. With that in mind, Mr Speaker, I would say that we should not postpone this debate. We certainly should not adjourn it. It should not go to a committee. We should press forward and resolve this issue today.

MR QUINLAN (11.41): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the motion. Mr Humphries made the point that there are people in this place with predetermined views. It is, I think, a point that he has relied on not for the first time. I rather think that the primary issue here is the public debate and the public airing. We are, in fact, accountable to the people of the ACT. We recognise that accountability and we do conduct full debates, despite the fact that we may believe that there are people with predetermined views. In the public debate in the last week or so we have heard lies, damn lies and statistics in relation to breast cancer. That question remains open and cannot be answered in this place, because we are not experts.

The provisions of this Bill, as far as I see it, are not a yes-no to abortion. As it is amended, they are more about sending women on a guilt trip. Like all members, I have received mail, emails and telephone calls on the subject and its various dimensions. One of those revolves around the ex post-psychological impact on women who have an abortion - possible detrimental effects as we see it, as mentioned in the Bill.

I would like to think that the debate benefits from the best professional advice and, amongst other things, the probable increase in ex post-psychological impacts on women who have an abortion and have no choice, who are in a desperate situation where they really have no choice but to have an abortion and are forced to endure the guilt trip first. I rather consider, at least intuitively, that being exposed to confronting and graphic pictures or drawings, and having been forced on a minimum three-day guilt trip to absorb those, it may well give rise to further detrimental effects on people who have an abortion and who feel the necessity to have an abortion.

I find it quite daunting, if not terrifying, to be making decisions that can have such far-reaching impacts without the very best professional opinion from both sides in the public debate. I support those who have risen today. The point has been well made that, by the end of this day, we may well be debating a further abortion Bill than the one that we started the day with, because of Mr Moore's compromises that he has brought forward that none of us have had the time to absorb and to internalise. Mr Speaker, I strongly support the motion.

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