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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2590 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Sensible information, a small cooling-off period and other sensible precautions will go out the window. That is completely inconsistent with so many other laws that require that people be given information. People have to have a cooling-off period. People have to have all these protections. This bill will stop information. It will ensure that people do not have both sides. It will make it easier for situations such as that Katherine Smith speaks about to occur. Regardless of which side of this debate you are on, you are sadly mistaken if you feel that getting rid of this act is going to help.

It certainly will not help people who are pro-life. I do not think it will help even people who are genuinely pro-choice. It will deprive them of necessary information. It will deprive them of a period to cool off, in a decision that is far more important than buying a vacuum cleaner or even a house. I would urge members to oppose this bill.

MS TUCKER (8.13): In discussing the repeal of Mr Osborne's amended legislation, it has to be recognised that Mr Osborne was coming from a position of faith which was opposed totally to abortion. In an examination of the merits of his bill in genuinely addressing the welfare of women, his bill does not stand up. We need to look at the best system for allowing women legal, mental, personal and social space to weigh up the issues for themselves, with easy access to whatever support-counselling, medical and other information-they need to work through their own decision. The proposal to repeal this act is a means to remove some of the hoops and some of the means of applying additional pressure that are part of this law.

One of the sections described as protective of women provides for a compulsory booklet. This booklet includes some basic information about the physical risks and about contacts for information.

Mrs Dunne: I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. Ms Tucker has said that the booklet provided under the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Act was compulsory. It is not. It is to be provided to someone. It does not have to be read.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: There is no point of order, Mrs Dunne. If you wish to refute Ms Tucker's comments later on, you may do so.

MS TUCKER: When you compare it, for instance, with the counselling guide used by the clinic, it does not assist a woman in exploring the issues. But it is not the provision of information and not the particular information that are the problem here. The problem is that this booklet is in the law and there is a compulsion to offer it.

Compulsion contradicts the basis of good treatment by any professional-that it be tailored to the individual. It is wrong for legislators to have interfered in this assessment in such a personal decision.

As an illustration of how dangerous it is for legislators to be so involved against the advice of people better informed and professionally trained, remember that very first version of the booklet which I brought to the attention of members. The pictures were quite incorrect. The ages of the foetuses were not properly represented in the pictures.

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