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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 9 Hansard (2 September) . . Page.. 2840 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

any church doctrine. Indeed, my own church preaches the doctrine of informed conscience, the emphasis then being on "informed". That is what this is about; it is simply about providing information.

It has been said that perhaps we are anti-women. Just remember that 50 per cent of those foetuses destroyed are female; so it is hardly anti-female to defend them. It has also been said that it is cruel or unkind. Why is it cruel or unkind to give simple biological facts? The information contained in the brochures put out by women hurt by abortion have said that perhaps it is cruel and unkind not to give women this information because of the effects that some women suffer. Mr Speaker, I will not go through the material. I hope all members have seen it. Again, if we can save a single woman from suffering these ill-effects, the additional information will have been of benefit. I cannot understand why it is that we are so afraid of the additional information. I go back again to the experts. Mr Humphries outlined clearly how our stand on experts in this place is willy-nilly, how we are willing to use them one day and to abandon them as quickly as we can the next.

I concluded my speech in November by referring to a billboard on the side of a building in Newtown in Sydney which said that the greatest violation of a woman's rights is to abort her. Mr Speaker, given the information supplied by groups such as Women Hurt by Abortion, perhaps the next greatest violation of a woman's rights may well be to allow her to have an abortion without access to all the available information.

MS TUCKER: I seek leave to speak again, if I may.

Leave granted.

MS TUCKER: I would like to clarify a couple of things. Mr Humphries did seem to misunderstand what I was saying in my comments about the pictures needing to be representational in terms of the change in the sizes. I was really making a comment on just how shoddy the whole thing looks. In fact, the oldest foetus is the smallest in the pictures. It would be more useful, if you were seriously interested in education, to have the sequence of pictures of foetuses actually increasing in size. It was really just a comment on that.

I am particularly interested in responding to the issue of the disparity in weights. Mr Humphries seemed to be saying that in this pamphlet they are regarding development as beginning on the day of fertilisation, which is usually two weeks after the start of the last menstrual period, and to be claiming that the figures we are comparing it to start on the first day. Obviously, the weight should be lighter, if anything, because in this pamphlet they are counting the beginning of development as being two weeks after the start of the last menstrual period. Mr Humphries might need to come back and give another explanation of the disparity in that matter.

The other point I would like to raise again, because I do not think it has been adequately addressed, is the statement that is being continually made that the information is just being offered. The language in the Act, as I have already said, is very inconsistent and confusing and it would be difficult for a court to interpret exactly what is required and what is adequate and appropriate, et cetera. I have been through all that.

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