Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2507 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
I understand the current informed-consent laws were put in place to protect women and to ensure that they are provided with factual and unbiased information on abortion so they can make an informed decision. It seems Wayne Berry and his supporters want to take away even the minimal information which women are supposed to see under the Maternal Health Information Act 1998.
If I didn't receive adequate information when the law required it, what hope will other women have of being properly informed if the current legislation is removed or watered down? I am sure more women have suffered as I have and more will consider legal action if abortion providers are not made to comply with current regulations.
In December last year I wrote to all MLAs, urging them to retain the informed-consent provisions. Only four replied-.I have found that those in favour of abortion don't want to hear from women like me. It seems as though they just want it to be business-as-usual, no questions asked.
I observed the pro-choice rally at the Assembly Building in April. They said abortion is a woman's human right. But isn't it also our right to know what might happen to us when we have abortions? The rally ended with the song Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Abortion was not fun for me. Abortion is not fun for anyone.
I feel let down by the system. Wayne Berry's proposals will only make things worse for women like me. I want to ensure that no other woman goes through the pain and suffering I have every day, suffering that could have been avoided had I had enough time, information and proper counselling to come to terms with my situation.
My baby would have been born one month after my 30th birthday. Today I would have a one-year-old, a home full of toys and photographs. Instead I come home alone to an empty house with only thoughts of what should have been. No-one told me this is how I would feel afterwards.
"Katherine Smith" is a pseudonym. Her name was suppressed because of current legal action. That is a very powerful statement from a lady in our community. I commenced by saying that we had sensible legislation which I think was acceptable to most people in our community, and that was the Osborne legislation as amended in the last Assembly. I can see no reason why that should change. Accordingly, I will be voting against the bills brought forward by Mr Berry and his colleagues to alter those laws.
MR HARGREAVES (11.13): I wish to say that it was my preference that the bills be debated cognately, because I don't see that any purpose will be served by splitting them up, other than going over the same ground that people have had an opportunity to go over before. This is an issue of conscience. Before I go on, I would like to pay respect to my colleagues, as I did last time we debated this issue. The issue of conscience within the Labor Party is dear to our hearts and we respect each other's position. That respect has been honoured on this occasion and I pay my respects to my colleagues for that, even though some of us have differing positions.
So, like Mr Stefaniak, I suspect, I shall be addressing all of the bills in one hit, unless of course something emerges in the course of the debates on those other ones which may require a comment.