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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2785 ..

Motion (by Mr Berry ) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:

That so much of the standing and temporary orders be suspended as would prevent order of the day, Assembly business, relating to the disallowance of the Maternal Health Information Regulations 1999, having precedence over Executive business in the ordinary routine of business this day.

MS CARNELL: Mr Speaker, to sum up, my view on this is very clear and I have been consistent all the way through. I am pro-choice, but I believe very strongly that pro-choice is about giving women the capacity to choose based upon a full suite of factual information. Nobody has indicated in this place that any of the information put forward is not factual. Certainly, having had a look at it, it looks factual to me.

We are giving all of the information that the expert panel put forward, plus some extra information. I think I have been really consistent all the way through my professional and political career in saying that I believe in full disclosure, full information, and real choice for people in all sorts of areas, and this is just one of them. I believe that women should have a capacity to choose whether they have a termination or not, but I believe that when making a very difficult decision, as this one is for any woman, more factual information cannot hurt.

Nobody is forcing a woman to read something they do not feel a need for. Give them a booklet and if they want to throw it in the bin they can do so. If they feel a need for more information to make a decision, they can read it. How can this, Mr Speaker, be somehow negative to choice, negative to women's rights? Next we will be saying we should not be giving full information on the contraceptive pill or other things, or other areas like that, just in case it might somehow cloud women's capacity to make a decision. I just do not accept that, Mr Speaker. Again, I respect others' view on this. From my perspective it is something that I believe very strongly in, and I would expect everyone - I suppose everyone but Mr Berry - to respect my views as well.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.53): I think we have to be very careful we do not get sidelined here on the issue that we are dealing with. The main issue on the matter of abortion as far as I am concerned is that women have access to safe, medically provided terminations. They still have that in the ACT, although I remind members that not so long ago it looked likely that that was not going to happen.

What is my view with regard to this specific regulation? I just say, "No, we should not be doing it". We should not be doing it, I think most importantly, because there are women who will be particularly distressed by this material, and I speak specifically of women who find they are carrying a foetus with a foetal abnormality. I think that is the strongest of all arguments against this. But there is a second argument. My view is that we should have no legislation at all that deals with the medical procedure. I see termination simply as a medical procedure, and it requires no legislation at all.

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