Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3431 ..
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (11.31): I think it is great that students from Saints Peter and Paul are here. It is interesting for them to be here for a debate on the rather controversial matter of abortion. I have made my view on abortion very clear. I do not believe it should be governed by any law at all. Mr Berry and I agree on that matter. I recognise that some believe they are dealing with a life. I do not believe that. I believe that since nobody can tell us whether the foetus is a life or is not a life then the decision should be made by the woman who is affected.
However, legislation has passed through this Assembly, and I think it is important for us to respect the law. That is why I have produced the booklet required by this Assembly. On the other hand, I also respect Mr Berry's right to try to change that law. What is happening here this morning is an attempt to change that law to ensure that we do not have to produce booklets with pictures to be provided to women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.
Although I understand what Mr Berry is trying to achieve, I think we have reached the stage where it is tilting at windmills. Of course I will support the motion put up by Mr Berry.
Mr Berry: A last desperate gasp.
MR MOORE: Mr Berry admits that it is a last desperate gasp. It is worth a try. I presume that is the attitude he is taking. It is worth a try, because it is an attempt to protect the rights of women to make their own choice. I will be supporting the motion, but if it fails then I will continue, as I have done as the Minister responsible, to produce those booklets. We have produced them. My understanding is that they are almost ready for circulation or are ready for circulation. They should be circulated this week or within the next few days. That is how we will proceed.
I think that this motion is unlikely to pass. I hope that, whatever the outcome of this motion, this is the last time we have to deal with this issue in this Assembly. However, should the numbers in this Assembly change I will be looking forward to the time when I can combine with Mr Berry, Ms Tucker and others and remove the legislation that covers abortion and allow abortion to be dealt with in the proper place - by doctors following the appropriate medical procedure and with appropriate controls over medical practitioners.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (11.34): I support the motion. I think it serves a very useful purpose in highlighting, as Mr Berry described them, some very sorry aspects of this proposal and the way it has been dealt with by the Assembly. I think the process has been flawed from the outset. I still insist that it is simply not appropriate for an executive, a government, to legislate on a conscience issue. That is a concept anathema to the operations of a parliament purporting to espouse all the doctrines of responsible government.
The matter we are dealing with here is regulations. Regulations can be made only by the Government. They can be made only by the Executive. I think we have a world first here, with an executive legislating on a conscience issue. It is unheard of in any parliamentary democracy in the world espousing Westminster principles. We need to