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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 10 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 3024 ..

MR BERRY: It is a joke. There are many of us who are committed to full-term pregnancies. Why is it that we think that people from Calvary are the only people that ever talk about it? Doesn't anybody else ever support a full-term pregnancy? It is just nonsense; it is silly. Have they said that they would like to be involved in this? It is just nonsense.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (2.38 am): I want to make just a brief comment, Mr Speaker. I think, among all of the provisions in the legislation, this is the one that for me highlights the inherent weaknesses of this legislation and this approach, to the extent that we are singling out abortion as a procedure that requires these extraordinary steps. It does raise the issue that we are going to this enormous trouble of establishing a large board, or advisory panel, to advise on a whole range of issues relating to termination of pregnancy, or abortion. It is, of course, relevant that we are singling out abortion; but there are so many other procedures carried out by hospitals, by doctors, and so many other medical procedures where I think there are just as valid, if not more valid, reasons for insisting that the process of consent or approval be made as explicit as we are insisting it be made in relation to abortion.

It seems to me that this provision, more than any, highlights the absurdity of this whole approach, of this whole Bill. It is this provision which highlights the nonsense of what we are doing today. This is such a flawed process. For me the nonsense is these provisions around the establishment of this enormous advisory panel - seven people, five specialists, getting together to provide this great range of information. I do think that there is so much more valuable work that they could be doing. There are so many other procedures that they could perhaps be attending to and so much more valuable work that they could be doing. It does highlight the inherent flaws in what we are doing.

Mr Berry: Lawns to mow or something.

MR STANHOPE: Yes. There are just so many other more appropriate things, so many less invasive things, so many less insulting things, for them to be involved in. This provision really highlights it. It brings it home that we are establishing this brains trust to draw pictures for us of foetuses. It is just appalling.

Mr Berry: Can somebody answer that question? Did the board of Calvary want to facilitate the provision of information for abortions? I want to know. Did we ask them?

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (2.41 am): Mr Speaker, perhaps I can answer Mr Berry's question. I imagine that they are not particularly happy about it at all, Mr Berry. The law will be the law, and my observation of the boards is that they will abide by the law.

Mr Berry: What if they say, "No, we don't want to be in it."?

MR MOORE: I must say that this is not something that I am particularly comfortable with either. But I think what I can achieve is to address some of the concerns that Mr Stanhope raises about the amount of time for which these people would be involved.

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