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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2555 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

This information is not from a study of morals. These figures have come from bodies that fund these services in various countries-Finland, Glamorganshire in Great Britain, Canada. The document continues:

Similarly, a study of Medicaid payments in Virginia found that women who had state-funded abortions had 62 per cent more subsequent mental health claims (resulting in 43 per cent higher costs) and 12 per cent more claims for treatment related to accidents (resulting in 52 per cent higher costs) compared to a case match sample of women covered by Medicaid who had not had an abortion.

So it goes on. There have been dozens of such surveys and studies. I know that there have been surveys and studies that debunk them. But the point is that we just do not know.

We then get to the question of abortion being rare-legal, safe and rare. Which people are working in the ACT to make it rare? Where is the government's commitment to making it rare? We have the case of a woman who says, "I was railroaded into an abortion. Don't weaken the law." This is the experience of a woman who has been there and who sought an abortion under the law in the ACT. Tomorrow, abortion will be still legal in the ACT and it will still occur. But what we have to do is to ask ourselves what is being done to make it rare.

Good legislation, like good surgeons, should first do no harm. Nor should good legislation or amendments to legislation condone harm or allow harm to happen. I do not think we have had enough answers in anything that has been said here today by those who will vote in favour of these bills to tell us what they will do to make it safe and to make it rare. Indeed, foreshadowing what will happen next, we will go on to the second order of the day, which seeks to remove the provision of information. So much for making it safe, so much for making it rare! The contradiction in these two bills is extraordinary.

I sound a warning note to those in government. One of the things that you accept when you sit on the treasury bench is exposure to risk. Governments get sued. Governments have deep pockets and governments provide many services. It may sound cold and cynical, but I think that we have to take into account whether, if we do not provide adequate information, if we give the green light by removing abortion from the Crimes Act, we are further exposing the ACT government and the taxpayers of the ACT to further litigation.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I have much information on this subject. I am going to keep it for the other bills because we are not handling them cognately. I think that the outcome would have been much better if we had dealt with these bills cognately as there are so many issues to discuss and each of these bills impacts on the other. It is unfortunate that that was stifled.

The other thing that we need to look at is the fundamental question that I ask every time we have one of these debates-I am yet to get an answer; maybe I will be lucky today and get an answer-that is: when does life begin? I have already asked what happens at first trimester plus one day or two days, but when does life begin? A question was asked earlier about when personhood starts. The latest thinking on personhood is that you really have all the genetics and capabilities that you inherit from your parents on about

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