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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2575 ..

MR SMYTH (continuing):

I would have loved to have found no association between breast cancer and abortion, but our research is rock solid, and our data is accurate. It's not a matter of believing, it's a matter of what is.

We in this place should not be making laws that put anyone at risk-let alone half the population, who, as females, may potentially seek an abortion-by not warning them appropriately of what may happen to them.

When you read through the list that I spoke of in the previous debate, and in this debate, you see that the consequences of abortion may be increased suicide rates, increased mental health problem rates, increased drug or alcohol abuse, increased self-harming behaviour, increased violent deaths and, it would appear, increased time in prison, because of self-harming behaviour. If we deny people access to that information when they are considering having an abortion, then we are negligent-we are making bad law.

I do not believe that, in a society like ours, and particularly in a city like Canberra, where people value access to education and value the access to knowledge that we have, we should be making it harder-rather than easier-for people, at a very difficult time, to get the full picture. When we put the health regulations in place, that is what we attempted to do. We said, "Let's make some information available. Let's make people aware of some of the downsides. Let's make people aware of what it is that they are aborting."

I repeat my standard question to all those who would vote pro-choice, to all those who would vote for this bill: tell me where life begins. Make it easy for me-make me amenable to your arguments. I notice that, yet again, no-one will tell me where life begins. If we do not know where life begins, we should be very, very cautious in what we do. If we are taking life-I believe we are destroying life with every abortion-then what we are doing is making a law to allow that to happen. What we are doing here, in this debate, is repealing a law that may stop that from happening.

Mr Deputy Speaker, if there is evidence out there which somebody can point me to, that tells me where life begins, and they can prove it to me, I will be a very happy man, because it would take this debate away from all of us-but they cannot. They do not answer my question. We are about to remove a law that allows people access to information at a difficult time-a law that gives people information to allow them to make informed decisions.

In this day and age, when you buy a car or sign up for a house, there is a cooling-off period. Women are making perhaps the most momentous decision in their lives-a decision that I believe will end another life and one which may expose them to all the things of which I have spoken. In view of all the reports I have put before people here, I cannot believe that we seek to deliberately take that knowledge away from people.

The argument, of course, will be: "If they want it, they can go and find it." A woman may be in turmoil, and really searching. If your name happened to be Katherine and you happened to go into an abortion clinic to ask for a balanced view, currently it would appear that you would not get it.

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