Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2783 ..
MS CARNELL (continuing):
I will use as an example something that may be relevant for today, and that is the contraceptive pill. Would we as an Assembly suggest that women should not be given all of the information about the contraceptive pill? The information says that one in a million people will get a blood clot and die, or lose their legs or end up with a stroke. Do we believe that because it is only one in a million we should not give that information because it may concern some women? Some women might get scared and not take the contraceptive pill and end up with an unwanted pregnancy. I hope not. I hope all of our views would be the same as mine, and that is that all information should be given. In fact, we do have a High Court case to suggest that that is the case. I believe people should be told both the good bits and the bad bits, the bits that might be of concern in some circumstances.
I believe it is absolutely appropriate that a full range of information should be given, whatever the medication or treatment might be. Take someone going in for bypass surgery at Canberra Hospital. Do we believe that because there is only a very small incidence of people dying we should not tell them about that? Do we believe we should not tell them about the incidence because it might scare them and stop them having the surgery and therefore they might end up with a heart attack and that would be a problem? I hope not, Mr Speaker. Certainly, my view on medical information is that full information should be made available, and that information must be correct.
I have looked at the information that has been put forward in these regulations and it is certainly my view that it is factually correct. Comments have been made in the media and in other places, even here this morning, that we are somehow taking a very paternal view in putting forward this information. Mr Speaker, I think quite the opposite. I think that women have a total capacity to determine what information is appropriate to them, or what information they want to take on board and what information they do not.
To suggest for one moment that I, as a woman, seeing the same pictures that I have seen in biology books all my life, would somehow not be able to cope with that when considering whether or not I may have a termination is, I think, an enormous put-down. To assume that I would be too emotional to handle factual information is a huge put-down to women. Women have a total capacity to take on board all factual information and make the decision that is right for them. For me, Mr Speaker, that is what pro-choice is about. I know it is not what Mr Berry or others think, but my personal view is that you cannot make a choice on whether you take a particular medication, have bypass surgery or have a termination without the full range of information. If you do not have the full range of information you are not making a choice based upon all of the information.
One of the things that are important here is that the legislation does not require anybody to read the information if they do not want to. What it requires is that the information be provided. A woman who says, "Look, I do not need any of this; I know exactly how I feel; I know exactly what I want; I have made my choice", can decide to go ahead with the termination. No problems. If a woman says, "Look, I would like to know more; I am still trying to make a decision", she can read the information and other information and the book that Mr Berry had and whatever else helps her to make the decision that is right for her - in other words, information that gives her real choice. Nobody is sitting