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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2552 ..

MS MacDONALD (continuing):

need to be giving more support to the women in our community who are actually facing this situation.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (4.02): I will be very brief, but I do agree with Ms MacDonald that each of us is obliged not to sit in silence but to state their position. I am pro-choice; I do believe in the woman's right to choose. In that light, I will be supporting the Berry and Gallagher bills. I was pleased to see the Gallagher bill come forward.

Twice now in this place we have debated abortion and, to the best of my knowledge, in practical terms the world will have changed little as a result of each of those debates-in practical terms. I have made inquiries to satisfy myself. I do harbour deep concerns about late-term abortion. I am satisfied with what I know now that, in practical terms, the world tomorrow will not be much different, if any, from the world yesterday as a result of this debate.

I am conscious of the angst that bringing on this debate does cause to lots of people. The house was acquainted with at least one dimension of that angst by Ms MacDonald in her speech. I have to say that I have been disappointed twice that we have had this quite emotional debate for what appears to have been no real change to the world as we know it and to the situation in relation to the accessibility of abortion and controls therein between then and now. I said I would be brief. I have been brief. I will be supporting the Berry and Gallagher bills.

MR SMYTH (4.04): I will not be supporting these bills simply because I believe that law, criminal law in particular, is passed to protect us from harm as individuals and a society. I think that this provision in the Crimes Act sends a very strong message that abortion is not a desirable outcome and that is why it should remain.

The Crimes Act puts a fence around what we see as unacceptable behaviour. Before we pull that fence down, we have to ask the real question: what harm will that allow to occur? Before we give the green light, before we say go, before we say that we do not believe something to be unacceptable, we have to ask ourselves what doing so will mean. That is called the precautionary principle. Many people use it in this chamber when it suits their purpose. If we do not know the outcome of this change, we should stop and take stock of ourselves.

Mr Berry said in his introductory speech that he would like to see abortion legal, safe and rare. Others have made a similar comment. If it is legal and it is safe, why would you like to see it as rare? The reason you would like to see it as rare is that it should naturally occur. For something to be rare is for it not to occur. In that comment, in that legal, safe and rare line, there is a real contradiction that needs to be addressed before we go ahead with changing the legal bit. One of the speakers has said that nothing would change with total deregulation. Much changes in what we say in society about human life. That is a very important question. Rather than having the ACT Assembly saying that abortion is okay, we ought to be asking ourselves what that huge mass, that huge weight, of material that grows daily with survey after survey, says about the side effects, the downsides, of abortion. I think that it is important to find out what they are before we, in theory, give an endorsement to abortion by removing these provisions from the Crimes Act.

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