Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2964 ..
MR QUINLAN (continuing):
So, the woman in question has the information. Now we are going to go to the further stage of ensuring that the decision by the woman to proceed with an abortion is fully considered. Is there going to be an exam on this, or what? At best, it does smack of patronising that person beyond belief, having already given them the information. At worst, it implies some form of coercion to ensure that the woman in question carefully considers the information before she can proceed to the next phase of an already traumatic experience.
If you were trying to say, "And we will have a waiting time of three days", if you had said, "And ensure that the woman has sufficient time to consider the information, if she so desires", that would be fair enough. But I just do not like the way that it is written. I think it is very poorly structured. I think it is patronising at worst and does imply some form of coercion applied to the woman. I think it should be stricken out.
MR WOOD (10.52): Mr Speaker, I will be considering the amendments that are being moved on their merits in the debate we are now undergoing in the detail stage. That is not inconsistent with my speech and my vote earlier against Mr Osborne's Bill and my likely vote at the end of these proceedings, still against the Bill. But if these amendments tidy up the Bill, they will be voted on on their merits at this stage.
MS TUCKER (10.53): I am also interested in paragraph (b) of proposed new clause 2A. I support what Mr Quinlan has pointed out. Mr Moore has said that this amendment is necessary to keep the Bill within a controlled framework. I understand that that is why you have the objects of an Act in place. But he has not explained to my satisfaction why he thinks that paragraph (b) is necessary. I would appreciate it if he would explain what he means and give an example of what he means by "draconian interpretation of the Act". As far as I can see and as Mr Quinlan has pointed out, paragraph (a) asks that adequate and balanced medical advice and information be given to a woman. Ensuring that the woman has carefully considered it is a very interesting thing to put in the objects of this Act because, as Mr Quinlan pointed out, how do you do that?
Do you give the woman a test afterwards? Does the doctor, having read this Act, and do the courts, having to interpret this Act, look at this provision and say that there is a case? If the woman says, "Yes, I had information but I did not look at it", it would mean then that the doctor would be liable because he or she had not really pushed this issue. If that is what Mr Moore wants, he needs to say so. Is that what he wants doctors to understand to be their responsibility and courts to interpret this to mean? But he needs to say so really clearly, because it is possible that this discussion will be used by courts. It needs to be quite clear what is intended. At this point, I would not want to see that being in there, either.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (10.55): I would like to make a few remarks about this issue as well, Mr Speaker. I support very strongly the point that my colleague Mr Quinlan is making about the unsatisfactory, patronising and, I think, demeaning connotations that we must draw from an object such as the one to ensure that a decision by a woman to proceed or not to proceed with an abortion is carefully considered. It is just so patronising. It is just awful. I also have broader concerns about the objects clause altogether. What is it that they are meant to achieve? In saying that,