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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2879 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Of course, a large number of the abortions are not of naive young children or the more mature young person. A lot of the pregnancies are of mature-age women who already have a number of children and well know what they need to do to avoid a pregnancy. So there is a deal of work to be done at that level as well.

Mr Speaker, that is where I believe our systems should be operating. They should take more concerted measures to see there are not so many unwanted pregnancies that bring about this unsatisfactory high level of abortions in the ACT. That is a difficult task. It is difficult to educate men and women, not women alone, of what they need to do to stop those unwanted pregnancies. Nevertheless, I believe it is not as difficult a task as that of stopping abortions. So let us give due recognition to this factor and let us do considerable work in this area.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services) (3.28): Mr Speaker, I would have thought that the intention of the rule of law was to protect life, to improve life, and I would have thought that all the legislation that we pass in this place, and indeed in any legislature, was for the protection of life or the improvement of life. I have always thought that the measure of a society is the way that it looks after its young, its infirm, its old and, in particular, its prisoners. A very real sign of the maturity of Australian society is that we no longer execute our prisoners, no matter how vile or how gross their crimes. They are not executed because it is now recognised as barbaric to take that life. It is seen as uncivilised. Yet, Mr Speaker, the most innocent, the most defenceless, the young, the unborn, are destroyed. Their lives are taken on the notion of choice, and, when making that choice, those who would oppose this Bill are saying there is no need to have an informed choice.

Mr Speaker, this Bill which we debate today should be acceptable to all here today because it is about choice, an informed choice. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why those who would claim to be pro-choice, truly pro-choice and not just pro-abortion, are against this Bill. What this Bill seeks to do is to assist with the making of an informed choice. What this Bill does is ensure that at the time of greatest pressure all options are put before a woman with the intention of helping her make an informed choice.

I personally would hope that no woman would feel the need to continue to seek an abortion, and I say that for several reasons. First and foremost, I believe that life begins at conception. I would dare to say that I believe that no-one in this place would contest that. If their justification for being pro-abortion is that life begins at some other point in time, I would be very interested to hear the supporting details. In fact the Australian Royal Commission on Human Relationships found in 1997 that "human life is continuous from conception to birth throughout life" and that "the destruction of the foetus destroys human life, and raises issues of serious concern".

Mr Speaker, if we accept this finding, and I know of no work since that refutes it, why is not this fact presented to a woman who is about to make the most monumental decision in another human being's life? It is another's life. It is often said that the zygote, the embryo, the foetus, the unborn child, is just a bunch of cells and therefore abortion is acceptable. That is not true. It is also often said that the unborn is part of the mother's body and therefore it is the mother's choice, and the mother's choice alone,

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