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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2894 ..

MR CORBELL (continuing):

Another woman wrote to me:

Whether or not we agree with the reasons a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy is irrelevant ... I resent the paternalistic attitude that a woman is not ... mature to decide whether or not to have a baby. By deciding to vote against this bill you have demonstrated an understanding of the complexities of pregnancy and abortion and I urge you to do everything in your power to win the support of other MLAs.

But the last quote I want to read is, I think, the most telling one. It goes to the very base of this debate, the fundamental concept we are testing here about whether we can trust a woman to make up her own mind. I quote:

The Bill does not acknowledge women as thinking, moral agents who are capable of making decisions that are the best for them and their families. In the words of one activist - "if you can't trust me with a choice - how can you trust me with a child?".

I urge members to oppose the Bill.

MS TUCKER (4.36): The community, as we all know, generally has been outraged at the handling of this issue by Paul Osborne and now Mr Humphries. The outrage, of course, must also be extended to those members who have supported these processes. I refer to the way the original Bill was tabled, the way Mr Humphries produced 10 pages of amendments the day before debate, the way these amendments were hurriedly turned into a Bill overnight and then presented as Mr Osborne's, and the way we are apparently going to see this new Bill rammed through today. We know that members who support the Bill do not like having to deal with the fuss. I am afraid that members need to live with it: It is their duty as elected representatives to live with the fuss if they put up legislation that a majority of people in the community do not like, that they have not thought through. They need to sit back, listen and do the work before they try to push it through this Assembly.

There is an air of desperation about the tactics at the moment of those opposite and of Mr Osborne and Mr Rugendyke, which are very alarming. On the matter of the Bill's introduction, I do want it on the record that Mr Osborne and Mr Humphries have both shown absolute contempt for credible parliamentary process and also for the community. They and their supporters, knowing that this is an issue of great concern to many in the community, initially purposely kept information about the timing and content of the Bill and amendments to themselves and more latterly introduced Bills and amendments in absurd haste. Now, of course, we have Mr Moore hurriedly putting together amendments which we did not get till this morning. So, the sorry process continues, lurching from one hurriedly put together Bill to hurriedly put together amendments, to another hurriedly put together Bill, to hurriedly put together amendments. What a scandal and what a sad joke this Assembly is becoming! What an outrage it will be if our Chief Minister supports this process, let alone this Bill or an amended version of it!

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