Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 2995 ..
Ms Tucker: It should be their choice to consider it.
MR HUMPHRIES: Of course it is their choice, but why should they not have a choice based on all of the available evidence, and this is included in the evidence. It is included in the information.
Ms Tucker: No, it is not their choice. This Bill is about enforcement.
MR HUMPHRIES: You are not forcing them at all. The legislation is quite clear.
Ms Tucker: Well, why is that in the object?
MR HUMPHRIES: Let me come to the issue raised by Ms Tucker. The legislation will not be interpreted by courts to mean that doctors have to thrust each page of the pamphlet under the eyes of the woman and force her to look at the sections and say, "There, that's your foetus. Now, read this next sentence. Now, look at this next paragraph". That is not what the legislation is going to do.
Ms Tucker: Well, why have you got that in the objects then?
MR HUMPHRIES: The objects do not say that. Let me quote what the objects say. The objects say this:
... to ... ensure that a decision by a woman to proceed or not to proceed with an abortion is carefully considered; ...
That does not mean that the information has to be thrust in some kind of intrusive way - - -
Ms Tucker: Well, how do you define "carefully considered"? Okay? You had better define that for future people to interpret this Act.
MR HUMPHRIES: It is not up to me to define it for them. It is not my Bill. I am simply saying to members that it is not a reasonable interpretation to say that a court is going to require a doctor to pass through every page of a pamphlet which has been produced by somebody else and require the woman to examine each page in his presence and perhaps have her answer questions about what is on the page. That is simply an alarmist approach to what this legislation intends, and I can pretty well guarantee it is not the way the courts are going to view it. It is simply part of the total picture which is being put before the woman concerned. Members have a big problem with that. They think it is too much for a woman to deal with. I think they sell women short very badly.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (12.53 am): I will respond very briefly. I genuinely believe that those who have spoken in favour of this misunderstand the point that is being made and misrepresent those of us who have objected to this. It goes very much to the points that Ms Tucker was making. It is just so insensitive. It is not a question of us not being able to confront the development of a foetus. It is just how insensitive it is to require a woman who has made the decision that it is in her best interests to seek an abortion to be forced to endure having to look at a series of