Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2992 ..
MR CORBELL (12.38 am): Mr Speaker, I will be supporting Mr Stanhope's amendment. Since I first saw the provisions for pictures and drawings in Mr Osborne's Bill, I have held a very strong view that it was purely an attempt to put into a legal framework material which is used by one side of the debate to justify their argument. I do not believe that it is in any way necessary. I believe it is patronising and a deliberate attempt to intimidate women into not having an abortion. The very fact that many of these pictures are used by people who are opposed to women procuring abortions and who protest outside abortion clinics, to me, speaks volumes about why this sort of material should not be included in the Bill. It is used to threaten women not to procure an abortion. I think it is an entirely inappropriate step.
MS TUCKER (12.39 am): I also support Mr Stanhope's amendment here. In my speeches earlier today I have already clearly expressed my total rejection of the concept. I will again point out that I believe it is incredibly insensitive and lacks compassion to enforce that kind of procedure onto a doctor-patient relationship. I gave the example of the doctor who sees a woman who desires to have a termination because she has a severely abnormal foetus. The doctor will now have to show that patient pictures of a normal foetus. One wonders how that is in the interests of the health of that particular patient. Once again, as it is with this whole Bill, it is a totally inappropriate and offensive intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship. This is a particularly odious and offensive part of it. I am quite happy to support this amendment, although obviously the numbers will not be with us.
MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (12.40 am): Mr Speaker, there is nothing in any of this legislation that requires a doctor to run through any of this information with anyone. It does not require anybody to sit down and make somebody look at anything. It does not dictate to a woman that she must read and understand and have an exam. In fact, all that is required is a packet of information that has been approved by what will end up being a slightly larger group than was initially planned, but I am quite comfortable about that. Professionals in the area will put together an approved balanced and independent information package.
The legislation requires pictures or line drawings or descriptions of foetal development. As a woman, I find it amazing that people somehow perceive that a woman does not already know and that she is going to be horrified at the whole thought of abortion. If women are presented with a whole package of factual information, I have faith that they have the capacity to take it on board and make a balanced decision.
To suggest that we are being patronising, that women cannot cope with factual information and that it will cause huge guilt trips is to seriously underestimate women. I find it an absolute put-down. I cannot understand why information put together in a medical way by people who are experts in this area could be a problem. If the people putting these drawings or pictures together were chronically against abortion, I would have some problems, but that is not the case. The people who will decide what is in this brochure are the people set down in this legislation, subject to possible amendment.