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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2563 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

There are even circumstances where the deliberate procuring of a miscarriage would be wrong, not just in my language or the language of some people who have argued against these bills, but in anybody's language. Take, for example, the commercial harvesting of foetuses for the purposes of organ transplant or obtaining stem cells. We know that there is already a market in body parts around the world. We know that there is potentially a market in valuable human organic material, and we do our community no service to pass laws tonight which have the effect potentially of abetting those who would procure foetuses or parts of foetuses in that way. (Extension of time granted.)

I do not believe that the consequences of repealing sections 44 to 46 of the Crimes Act have been fully thought through. They are regarded by the supporters of this bill as being an easily excised piece of the Crimes Act, the absence of which will barely flicker in the recognition of either lawyers or those administering the law in the territory. I do not know that that is the case. I fear that it is not the case. I doubt that anybody can assure me tonight, as has been said already a couple of times in the course of this debate, that the changing of the law in this way will not change anything in the day-to-day lives of people in the territory. I am not confident of that, and I believe that we have not fully understood the effect of removing those sections of the Crimes Act.

The fact that Ms Gallagher has felt it necessary to move a separate bill of her own to deal with the inadequacies, you might even say the baldness, of Mr Berry's original legislation is evidence of the fact that this is the product of a determination, almost an obsession, on Mr Berry's part. In his desire to see the legal status changed, the appearance of the law changed, he may be throwing out-dare I use the analogy-the baby with the bathwater.

It is clear from what we have heard in this debate this afternoon that a majority of members of this place support provisions to "decriminalise" abortion in the ACT. I think that is a dangerous state of affairs. I do not believe that we have fully understood the effect of what we might do.

Rather than empower women, we may be leaving many women in a parlous state. We may be leading to a situation where terribly wrong things may be done because the law has vacated the field of abortion, in effect. Laws intervene in many aspects of our lives today-the way we buy a car, the way we obtain a service, the way we interact with each other in the things we say and the things we do, the way we obtain employment, the way we get married, et cetera. The laws of the territory speak on many areas. If this law passes, our laws will say very little about abortion. That gives me great concern.

Even those who think that it is a woman's right to make that choice may have to face one day the consequences of those actions which may be undesirable and very distant from what they had expected to achieve by virtue of moving this legislation before the house tonight.

MR BERRY (4.49), in reply: Everybody is driven on this issue by their own values. We all seek to present arguments in relation to this matter in accordance with our own values in respect of a woman's right to choose.

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