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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2885 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

He lists these problems as surgical injury, infection, infertility, difficulties with subsequent pregnancy and psychological effects. A Melbourne psychiatrist, Dr Eric Seal, goes on to define the post-abortion syndrome, as it is becoming now known, as a delayed or slowly developing prolonged and sometimes chronic grief syndrome.

I was particularly impressed by these women in that in a very non-judgmental way they wanted to do something to stop the suffering of the women that they deal with. They saw that the Osborne Bill was absolutely essential in that people got balanced information. The introduction to this pamphlet says that in practically every case of abortion documented by Women Hurt by Abortion the woman was not given all the facts. Frequently abortion is explained as a clinically safe surgical procedure. But this so-called safe procedure can leave you with permanent physical complications as well as potentially chronic psychological problems. I think that is something that we should all keep in mind. (Further extension of time granted) One lady who spoke to me recalled a sign that apparently used to be painted on the side of a building in Newtown. That sign simply said, "The greatest abuse of a woman's rights is to abort her".

MR QUINLAN (3.51): Mr Temporary Deputy Speaker, as with a number of speakers before, I am not pro-abortion, I am pro-choice. I support a woman's right to make the decision in relation to child-bearing. This Bill, as constructed, is about forcing women to endure a guilt trip of substantial proportions before they are permitted to make a choice that I believe they have the right to make without permission in the first place.

I want to revisit a point I made this morning in the debate to postpone this matter. I am concerned about provisions requiring exposure to information, Mr Smyth's informed choice. This Bill seeks to enforce receipt of graphic and confronting information and then a three-day wait before a procedure is permitted. I believe there is a distinct possibility, if not probability, that this guilt trip will be an experience in itself that scars individuals. Mr Smyth expressed fears about the detrimental psychological effects, as the Bill describes them. I am concerned that those effects may be exacerbated. People who make this choice, a choice which I believe is their right, probably do so because their circumstances leave them in a position where to continue to full term would have dramatic negative effects on their lives.

I believe that no person who finds that they are pregnant races off to the doctor immediately. I have in recent times had experience of a young couple who found that the young woman was pregnant, and I know that that young couple agonised and agonised before they sought an abortion. We are not, in this Bill, proposing informed choice. We are proposing patronising enforcement and exposure to information, information that is described in this Bill at a disturbing level. As I sit through this debate it is frightening to hear people in this place who have no more medical or psychological qualifications than I have interpreting medical data, drawing conclusions from it, and making law on the basis of their ill-informed interpretation. I think that is a very dangerous way for our society to go.

If there is concern regarding the lack of information, let us make more information available. No-one is going to argue with that. If post-abortion syndrome is rife, if it is a direct function of abortion in reality and if there are no ways to obviate it, then let us inform people in the general sense. Let us promulgate that information to the community.

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