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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2908 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

some doctors who do not fit into the above scenario - however in our experience these are a small minority. Laws never have prevented nor ever will prevent women who are desperate from obtaining an abortion.

The Bill which proposes exclusion of some doctors from counselling regarding possible termination produces an unnecessary and unproductive impediment in the decision-making process and may exclude a trusted professional who has a valuable relationship with the affected woman.

The proposal to show pictures of the abortion process focuses on the operation and ignores the long term outcome. If this proposal has validity then all patients considering an operation should be given pictures of the operative procedure before making their decision.

Another key issue in any abortion debate is that any restrictive or prohibitive edict primarily affects the less advantaged members of our community.

Those who are against abortion are never forced to have one.

Each of us has that wisdom in our offices. Each of us has received that sort of advice from the medical practitioners in Canberra, endorsed and supported by their Division of General Practice. That is the view of the doctors of Canberra.

We all know the view of the majority of the women of Canberra. The introduction of this legislation has created enormous division within this community. It has created enormous anguish and anger. I have no doubt from the discussions that I have had that this legislation is opposed by the vast majority of the people of the ACT, and I think those opposite who are supporting this legislation know it. This legislation is unnecessary. It is not wanted. It was uninvited. It should not be supported.

MR HARGREAVES (5.28): Mr Speaker, I have had enormous difficulty with the avalanche of information that has come forward by email and through the mail and from people who have spoken to me in the last couple of days. I made mention earlier on that it is my view that we may not have the wit to consider this information as quickly as we are being asked to. I would prefer, in fact, to have a procedure available to us whereby we are able to see the evidence for and against, laid side by side, and to have it considered in some sort of a committee in which we can all take part. I think that would be a much better process for all in the end.

Mr Speaker, I cannot describe to you the extent of the distress, the anxiety and soul-searching this Bill and its predecessor Bill have given me. For some in this chamber it is a fairly straightforward issue, either pro-choice or anti-abortion. But the issue is not that black and white. All of us, I would hope, come from the same starting position and that is a strong belief in the sanctity of life. Some of us differ on when that life actually begins or takes on human form. I respect this different view but I believe that life starts at the moment of conception and that the life created is that of another human being.

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