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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2501 ..

Crimes (Abolition of Offence of Abortion) Bill 2001

Debate resumed from 12 December 2001, on motion by Mr Berry:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before I call Mr Stefaniak: members, is it the Assembly's wish to conduct a cognate debate in relation to these four pieces of legislation? I ask because it may be that some members wish to speak once on the matters and the agreement to a cognate debate will not prevent members, if they wish, from speaking to each particular piece of legislation. Is it therefore the wish of the Assembly? There has been one refusal and therefore we will take the legislation seriatum.

Mr Humphries: Mr Deputy Speaker, I wonder if members who object to debating all four bills cognately have any view about how we can group some of the bills in order to minimise the length of debate today. We have potentially a very long day ahead of us if we're going to have 17 speakers, potentially, on four different bills. I wonder if members have any view about whether some of these bills can be grouped in order to make it possible for members to cover a number of targets at the one time. I would've thought, for example, that bills 2 and 3 might have been capable of being debated cognately.

Mr Berry: I had some discussions with Ms Gallagher and she and I agree that orders of the day 2 and 3 could appropriately be grouped, but that's a question we might come to when we get to order No 2.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Very well. Are you happy with that? Thank you.

MR STEFANIAK (10.52): Mr Deputy Speaker, in starting off today, might I indicate that I intend speaking now in relation to order of the day No 1, but I think my comments will also reflect on 2 and 3 and therefore I do not see the need to speak-if at all, certainly not at any length-in relation to those two.

I have been a member of this chamber for most of the time that the Assembly has been in existence, and this is a debate we seem to have at least once every sitting. I restate the position I've always had in relation to this matter, and that is that I am anti-abortion. I am for the rights of the unborn child. Last Assembly I thought we actually ended up with reasonable legislation. It did not satisfy everyone, by any shadow of a doubt, but it did provide I think necessary protections. It provided for information to be given to women considering an abortion. It provided for written consent. It provided a number of other things to protect the rights of the unborn child. Yet it acknowledged that, sadly, there are abortions in our community and there always have been.

That was the Osborne legislation. That was legislation introduced by a man who had some very definite views on the subject. But I think he sat down with other people and came up with reasonable legislation which satisfied most reasonable people.

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