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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 8 Hansard (8 August) . . Page.. 2531 ..

MR RUGENDYKE (continuing):

this package that I talked about earlier in the year, and I flag that I will be tabling more amendments this week.

Mr Speaker, I commend this bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Stefaniak ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Abortion-exposure drafts of legislation

Papers and statements by member and minister

MR BERRY: I seek leave to table exposure drafts of legislation I intend to bring to this Assembly one day.

Leave granted.

MR BERRY: I present the following papers:

Crimes Amendment Bill-Exposure draft.

Health Regulation Repeal Bill-Exposure draft.

I seek leave to make a short statement.

Leave granted.

MR BERRY: I believe that abortion should be safe, legal, accessible and rare. Abortion is, and will always be, a controversial issue in the community. I accept this, and I want to make it clear in tabling these exposure drafts that I accept those strongly held views. My aim today is to table these bills I have had drafted so that the community can consider them in the lead-up to the election. I want everyone to consider the questions: should abortion be punishable by imprisonment; should women be made to look at pictures of foetuses when considering an abortion? These are the stark realities of the law which is in place in the Assembly. I want the community to consider these questions, and I want all candidates at the election to consider these questions.

Should we ignore the reality of 80,000 abortions across Australia last year? Should we accept that, on a strict interpretation of the law, many of these women and their doctors would be threatened by a jail sentence?

As you all know, I feel very strongly about this issue, and it is my long commitment to law reform in this area which led to my actions today. I believe that it is a woman's right to choose whether or not she has an abortion, and I believe that most in the community accept this position.

It is worth while to look at how we got to this position. The Crimes Act, which my Crimes Amendment Bill amends, has three sections which make abortion illegal-sections 42, 43 and 44. They provide a penalty of up to 10 years in prison for a woman who procures her own abortion, for someone (a doctor) who performs an abortion and for someone (perhaps a pharmacist) who provides drugs which may be used to perform an abortion.

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