Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3006 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
But, Mr Speaker, I do not make any apologies for saying to this place that I do not think that it is appropriate for abortion clinics in this Territory to provide abortion services to young women, to children - we are talking about children here - with no involvement whatsoever by their parents. I think that in other settings we would expect parents to be involved in decisions of this kind. It would normally be the case, for example - not necessarily inevitably - that where a child were to undertake some other medical or surgical procedure the consent of the parent would be sought. I understand that it is not strictly necessary in all cases, that it is possible for children to be able to consent in certain circumstances to procedures without parental consent, but in a matter such as this I would hope that the law would encourage - not necessarily require absolutely - the involvement of a parent in such a process. Mr Speaker, that is the reason for the amendment I have put before the house.
MR SPEAKER: Mr Moore, you cannot move your amendment, but you can foreshadow it. It might be easier to do so and open up the debate.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (1.29 am): I think, Mr Speaker, that it would be useful if I foreshadowed my amendment. If Mr Humphries' amendment loses, I foreshadow that I will move amendment No. 15 circulated in my name, which reads:
Page 5, line 9, subclause (1), omit the subclause, substitute the following subclause:
"(1) A person shall not perform an abortion on a woman unless her consent has been obtained in writing, stating the date and time, at a time not less than 72 hours after making a declaration under section 8.
Penalty: 50 penalty units.".
This amendment provides for a comprehensive requirement, rolling the requirement for consent, the information requirements and the cooling-off period concept into one. Mr Speaker, as much as I would wish that the legal requirement not become law, if we are going to do it this way I think it is better to do it like that, rather than the way Mr Humphries has proposed. Mr Speaker, I would like to share with members the first time I recall as an adult going into court. In fact, it was in the Supreme Court in Canberra over a planning matter. I have to say that even though I was a very well educated person, I had read the legislation very carefully, it was a daunting experience.
It is daunting for anybody who goes into court, even the people who went into those planning tribunals that were all about playing down the power. The daunting experience that we would put somebody through by following Mr Humphries' or the Western Australian model is simply unacceptable. The last thing somebody who is pregnant and who is in those circumstances needs is to go through an even more traumatic process. The court process, even for somebody who goes in there willingly to deal with a matter - for me it was not a personal matter; it was a planning matter -