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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2994 ..

MR BERRY (continuing):

I have said from the outset that the genesis of this legislation is about the humiliation of women. You can laugh about it and try to pretend that something different is occurring, but that is what is occurring. The reason why the zealots are so enthusiastic about some of these aspects is that they are designed, in their minds anyway, to create barriers and to create difficulties for women who might be considering abortion. They have this wild idea that you can frighten women out of abortions. I am afraid that the end result of this will be that women who have an abortion might end up troubled as a result of the information that they are forced to endure. That is the truth of it.

I think it was said before by one of my colleagues, Mr Stanhope I think, that we males are not in a position to judge these things accurately, but we do our best to apply our imagination to these things in the context of our discussions with our families and other people that we meet in relation to these matters. I have developed a concept. It might be wrong but I will err on the side of safety in relation to this and support the amendment moved by Mr Stanhope. It is a sensible amendment. I think other members should err on the side of safety too. There are some circumstances where the provision of this information would be grotesque.

MS CARNELL (Chief Minister and Treasurer) (12.48 am): Mr Speaker, because Mr Berry made the point that he really did not know how women may feel in this situation, I think it is really important to realise that in just about every case - I cannot think of one where it would not be so, but there might be one - where a woman is carrying an abnormal foetus and decides to have an abortion, she will have had an ultrasound. She would have looked at her own baby on a screen. That is part of the deal, part of the process that women go through. They have an ultrasound at about six weeks, or maybe eight weeks. The screen is right there, Mr Speaker. You can have a look. If a woman is carrying an abnormal foetus she will have had a look already at what the problem is. It will have been explained to her what is wrong with the ultrasound, where you can find the problem, and so on. That is part of good medical practice. Mr Berry, I think, is being alarmist here. Coming through a situation like that is difficult. Let me guarantee to you that a woman who is carrying an abnormal foetus would be very well aware of what the problem is and would have looked at it.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General, Minister for Justice and Community Safety and Minister Assisting the Treasurer) (12.50 am): Mr Speaker, the pamphlet available from New Zealand is an example of what might be provided. The information obviously is not intended to be, or is not, in effect, gory or salacious or somehow meant to create some false impression of what is taking place inside a typical woman's body. The information in this case needs to be approved, in its presentation and format and accompanying information, by a panel of five or perhaps more specialists. I feel confident that that process is going to lead to a document which is balanced, reasonable and medically accurate, and designed to do what this whole Bill is about doing, which is providing accurate information to a woman about the total picture confronting her as she considers an abortion.

Members might say it is terribly confronting for the nub of the issue facing the woman, that is, what is happening inside her body, to be represented graphically to her in a pamphlet. If so, I think they demean and belittle women and their intelligence, and their capacity to consider this information and to make a decision. I think that is not necessary.

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