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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2931 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

It is particularly disturbing that we have now seen two expressions of opinion from the DPP in relation to amendments before this place. Mr Moore's amendments have also come in for some criticism, but it is very difficult in the scheme of things to get one's head around all of the advice of the DPP in order that we can make a sensible judgment in relation to the amendments.

Mr Speaker, this Bill sets a precedent for other bad law to follow. I do not think we should be setting those sorts of precedents in this place. Why is it that members in this house are not prepared to consider decriminalisation? I will tell you why. They have other ill-intent for women who might be seeking these procedures in the ACT. Mr Osborne has never expressed any sympathy for the 1,700 women who in a year choose to have an abortion or who might be forced to go to another place for an abortion. All he has wanted to do is make them feel guilty and humiliate them. Mr Humphries does not mind sending them on a guilt trip. That sort of attitude is something that we really need to feel ashamed about, because it is not a humane way to develop laws for the constituency which we represent.

If people are sincere in their attempts to ensure true choice, then they ought to be serious about looking at the provisions of the Crimes Act. You cannot consider this legislation without looking at the Crimes Act. Do you, Mr Osborne, think it still should be a crime to have an abortion? Do you really think it should be punished? Do you really think it should be a crime to have an abortion? Do you really think a woman should be subject to a criminal charge if she has an abortion? Tell us. Tell us whether you think it should be a crime or not. Come on, where is your courage? Let us hear from you. Of course you think it is but you are not game to say it. It is the old politician showing through. People might find out what your true agenda is. You do not mind it being a crime.

Mr Osborne: Tell us about the High Court.

MR BERRY: Mr Osborne refers to the High Court. I am pleased that he does, because it gives me an opportunity to inform him about the way that the medical profession operates. Members of the medical profession and those who employ them have to operate in accordance with the guidelines set by the various courts; otherwise, they can be sued. If they do not comply with the standards set by the courts, then the Medical Defence Union will not insure them and they will not be able to practise. Those are the facts of the matter. They do not have to have laws like this to guide them on that course. They instinctively know that you cannot work that way. They know professionally that you cannot work that way. That is why in every other procedure among the thousands of procedures that are conducted throughout health systems they do not have to have laws like this to regulate them. Doctors know. Their professions know, the public hospital systems know and the private hospital systems know that they have to comply with the standards which are set from time to time in judgments of the courts.

So cut that nonsense out. If you want to persist with that nonsense, we will have a mound of legislation and regulation for invasive medical procedures and drug administration that you cannot jump over. Stop the nonsense. The High Court decision is no justification for regulating every medical procedure. It is an appalling straw to hang on to. If you were fair minded, we would have that mound of legislation to jump over now.

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