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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2911 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

I have given support to the inclusion of two nurses to the advisory panel for this very reason, and I look forward to seeing whether or not that will manifest itself at a later stage. I believe that they should be recruited from the specialist area in hospitals which deal with women's issues and from the area specialising in women's health issues in the wider community. It is most appropriate that there be a clinical psychologist involved in the approval process as well. It is a mistake to assume that there are significant psychiatric problems stemming from abortions. It is also quite true that most of the women who have abortions experience some type of psychological distress, and this is an important aspect of the long-term effect of having such a termination.

Mr Speaker, it has been said that if this Bill passes it will mean the closure of the current termination clinic. I do not believe that that will be so, and I sincerely hope that I am right. For the record, Mr Speaker, I will use my vote in this Assembly to prevent the closure of the clinic if it is threatened. I do not believe it is right to force women who have, they believe, a legitimate cause for a termination to go interstate or to a backyard butcher or to attempt to do the procedure themselves. Surely we are more responsible than this.

I had hoped that I would never have to be a party to such a decision as this. It has caused me considerable pain and anxiety. I will depart from these notes for a moment, Mr Speaker, to say that very few people who have spoken before me have had the courage to admit it or to express anything like it. It is something which I have agonised over, and I know that there are people in the community who will disagree with any decision I take. But I will take a position because my conscience dictates to me at this time, having received all manner of advice, abuse, threats and approaches, after all of that, that I will make the right decision.

Mr Speaker, I would like to place on the record my appreciation to all of those people who have given me their views and advice, gently and genuinely, and in particular my party colleagues who have recognised that this is an issue for the deepest recesses of our souls. It is one for us to decide in the loneliness of our own hearts. They have placed no pressure on me at all. Indeed, my colleagues have been most supportive. I would only hope that those opposite could conduct themselves with such compassion. It is times like this which make me proud to be part of such a great party.

Mr Speaker, I urge all members here to think deeply, as I know we all have, and vote according to their convictions and not in response to the pressures they have experienced.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (5.42): Mr Speaker, I rise to support this Bill. My reasons for doing so should come as no surprise to any member of this house or to anybody else in the ACT. My views on the question of abortion have been aired many times over my almost 10 years of membership of the ACT Legislative Assembly. Indeed, my views about abortion were published by the Right to Life Association before the last ACT election and should be of no surprise to anybody.

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