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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2587 ..

MS GALLAGHER (continuing):

In total, there are 12 separate information brochures in this package, excluding the information issued under the act. Women receive all this information prior to giving consent for any procedure to occur.

We are privileged in this place, Mr Deputy Speaker, because we have the right to choose on this issue in accordance with our own consciences-to do what we think is right with reference to our own beliefs, past histories and circumstances. However, as long as this act remains, this privilege stays in the room with us.

I am asking members today to trust women-trust that they are capable of making considered decisions, and that they will put as much thought into such decisions as members will have put into how they cast their votes on this issue. I ask members to realise that freedom to choose does not mean that a particular choice is then made. I ask members to recognise that women make these decisions with reference to their own beliefs and circumstances, based on personal and private considerations that we in this place could not possibly hope to predict.

If members would not choose abortion for themselves or their loved ones, I would like them to appreciate that their choice, if made freely and without pressure, is made more legitimate and is more respected.

Please repeal this act and extend the right to choose, and the legitimacy and respect that comes with that right, to all women in the ACT.

Sitting suspended from 6.24 to 8.02 pm.

MR STEFANIAK (8.02): I have an amendment to Ms Gallagher's bill, but I will speak to both bills. Now that Mr Berry has got up his controversial bill, it is more important than ever that the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Act should remain.

I can recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, as you and a number of members in this place no doubt can, how this legislation came about when we were in government. It was very much a compromise. It is very good legislation which persons who are pro-life and persons who are pro-choice can support. Logically, they would have some trouble opposing it, if logic comes into it.

The legislation was introduced by Mr Osborne and amended with a lot of input from Michael Moore, who was very much a pro-lifer. Some people might describe Mr Moore as a screaming leftie. He described himself as a feminist. To use Mr Berry's word, he was a progressive. Yet he was almost the co-author of what we ended up with, with some help from Mr Humphries and some very good drafting by counsel. I cannot remember exactly what was amended and what was not.

Mrs Dunne: I can.

MR STEFANIAK: Mrs Dunne says she can. She was working with Mr Humphries at the time. We ended up with pretty good legislation, enabling women to receive information and to pause and think. It was not only information about why they should not have an abortion.

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