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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2579 ..

MR PRATT (continuing):

carried out on the same day? Yet the pro-abortionists argue that the wait is ridiculous. This medical procedure is unique in that it significantly affects another life and if any woman intending to abort is not aware of this fact then she has been mislead and uninformed.

She goes on to say:

Many women I have spoken to say that the news of an unexpected pregnancy, especially in less than ideal conditions, is a very emotionally difficult and confusing time. Surely even the pro-abortionists must recognise that the best decision for some women is not to have an abortion. The waiting period attempts to protect women considering an abortion from making a coerced, uninformed or rash decision.

She asks the question, "Isn't that assisting 'freedom in choice'?" Of course it is, Mr Deputy Speaker. Those are the key issues from that letter. I would like to table this letter, if I may. I would also like to table the letter produced to me by the doctors.

Leave granted.

MR PRATT: I present the following papers:

Abortion bills-

Facsimile copy of letter to all MLAs from 20 doctors, Gordon Valley Medical, dated 20 August 2002.

Copy of email to Mr Pratt from a member of Real alternatives for women (RAW), dated 3 June 2002.

I conclude by saying this: there is no harm in the current law. It does not prevent women from entering into an abortion process. So what is the big deal? It does protect our medical professionals. How will removing the current provisions in the maternal health information act introduce major benefits? What it does, indeed, is introduce risks. It introduces major dangers. That is why, Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not support the bill.

MS DUNDAS (5.30): Mr Deputy Speaker, I am glad and happy to support the repeal of this act. In 1998, I joined the crowd that filled the square in front of this Assembly to protest against the introduction of the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Act. I was then, as I am now, a member of the Women's Electoral Lobby, which has fought since 1972 to do what we have achieved today-to make an abortion not a crime.

They have fought to make sure that women are free to make choices. I believe abortion should be treated in the same way, under our law, as any other medical procedure. This regulation treated abortion as profoundly different from all other procedures. I have no difficulty with statistics being collected on the number of terminations conducted, but I do object to the provisions in this regulation that require reasons for abortions to be publicly reported. We do not collect this information for other medical procedures, including those relating to IVF.

I believe this regulation patronises women. It assumes that the provision of more information by a doctor would change the decision a woman makes about terminating a pregnancy. This is a complex and difficult decision that a woman considers very carefully before she goes down either path.

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