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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2878 ..

MR HUMPHRIES: I would simply ask members, as they peruse the contracts which have been made available under this process, to bear in mind that there is a degree of confidentiality and privacy that attaches to those contracts. I trust that members will respect that in perusing the information contained therein.


Debate resumed.

MR WOOD (3.23): Mr Speaker, I will not be supporting this Bill, although I am a person who would wish to see as few abortions as possible carried out in our community, so it can be said I am anti-abortion; but aren't we all? No-one wants to see abortion, except perhaps in those unfortunate circumstances, often quite a number of unfortunate circumstances, when they are quite essential. I expect that no woman going to the ACT abortion clinic really wants to be there. That is why, in part, I am against the proposal. I believe that women attending that clinic have made up their minds before they go. That is not to say there should not be further consideration, and that is part of what happens there.

That clinic was established some years ago. I was here in the Assembly at that time. I did not resist then the establishment of that clinic. I did not greet it with great enthusiasm, I might say, but I did not resist its establishment. It was an acknowledgment that women were going to have abortions. Indeed, they were travelling to Sydney or other places in considerable numbers to do so. The clinic to me was an acknowledgment that those abortions were happening, whether in Canberra or in Sydney. My position today remains the same. I did not oppose the clinic then and I will not now. I will not support this proposed legislation.

What has emerged in that period is that there are something like 2,000 abortions a year at that clinic for women from the ACT and the region. That is certainly too many abortions. That tells me again that our efforts are in the wrong direction. I believe, whether or not the clinic is there, whatever conditions are imposed upon the clinic, that those abortions will continue. We have to attend to the real issue and that is the number of unintended and unwanted pregnancies, and nowhere in all this debate have I heard that. I believe that is where we have to work. We have to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies because, in the end, women will front up to the abortion clinic if they have that unwanted pregnancy.

I am aware, as a former schoolteacher and as a former Minister for Education, that there is quite a deal of work in our schools on education, beginning in government schools and, I believe, in non-government schools at the primary level. That work must continue. It must build upon itself. I am not convinced that at secondary level there is enough of it. Clearly, if we are having this large number of unwanted pregnancies, there is not enough of that education in schools. All schools at all levels must attend to this critical issue to see that girls exiting those schools are fully informed and there is no chance of not knowing the consequences of what they do.

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