Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2962 ..
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (10.42): While you are doing that, Mr Quinlan, I would ask you to consider carefully the ramifications of what you are doing, because the objects of the Act contain the legislation and, by removing any one of them, you actually open up the possibility of the legislation going broader. The reason for the objects of the Act, as far as I am concerned, is to contain what the legislation can do. That is why it is that I have put these objects of the Act. It seems to me that to remove any one of these objects is to risk opening the legislation to a more draconian approach.
Mr Berry: Tell us what paragraph (b) means.
MR MOORE: I have an interjection. Mr Berry asks me to tell him what it means. It means that object of this legislation is to go no further, that is what it implies, to ensure that a decision by a woman to proceed or not to proceed with an abortion is carefully considered.
MR CORBELL (10.43): Speaking to Mr Moore's amendment, as I read through the proposals that are listed here in paragraphs (a) to (f), on almost every one of them I think, "Why do we need these? Why do we need them?". Paragraph (a) reads:
ensure that adequate and balanced medical advice and information are given to a women who is considering an abortion;
It probably should read, "are given to a woman who is considering an abortion", but that probably reflects the hurried nature of the amendment. Nevertheless, that aside, I ask myself, "Is it not a fairly sad state of affairs that we need to include that in the first place?". As I said and as others in this place said in speeches in the in-principle stage - those of us who are opposed to the Bill in principle and who believe amendments were a tactical mistake - in our view the advice provided by medical practitioners to women seeking a termination was already adequate and balanced, and the information given to a woman was adequate for her to make an informed decision. The only reason we have got to this absurd stage of considering the insertion of paragraphs (a) to (f) is that a majority of this Assembly has accepted that the existing level of information is not adequate.
If a stronger position had been taken in the in-principle debate, without flagging the fall-back position, perhaps we would not be at the absurd stage we are at now. I would much rather not have to see any of these changes being proposed. I make the point on paragraph (a) that I believe quite firmly that this level of provision of advice in an adequate and balanced way already occurs. In relation to paragraph (b), I support the foreshadowed amendment of my colleague Mr Quinlan, because all paragraph (b) does is perpetuate the attitude that has become the norm in this debate this evening, that is, that a decision by a woman to proceed or not to proceed with an abortion is something that we think women currently do not carefully consider. Indeed, it perpetuates that patronising view of how women make decisions in relation to terminations. Again, it is a sad state of affairs that it is there. I think Mr Quinlan's proposed amendment is an important one in that regard.