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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2594 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

As a result of the success of the previous bill, it is now acknowledged in this jurisdiction that abortion is to be regarded as a health issue; it is not to be regarded in any other way. We are talking here about the basis on which informed consent will be deemed to have been achieved in relation to a particular health procedure. Issues around informed consent in relation to this procedure should be no different to those in relation to other procedures.

It is not acceptable that this health-related procedure be singled out and that certain information be forced on people seeking to undergo the procedure. That is the situation we are in now. That is the state of the law. It is more than a question of the state of law; an issue of significant principle is involved here.

Ms Tucker has just given us, in great detail, the range of information that is provided. There is a range of issues around informed consent. There is no procedure carried out in the ACT by a medical practitioner in relation to which informed consent is not deemed to be a vital and necessary part of the process leading to the undertaking of the procedure. It is a requirement of every single medical procedure carried out in the ACT that there be informed consent and that informed consent be part and parcel of the decision-making process. This procedure should not be different. There is no basis for distinguishing this particular procedure in these circumstances.

Compulsion is at the heart of the debate we are having. That is the offensive nature of the legislation we are seeking to repeal. The information was forced. It was mandated, whether or not it was needed. The assumption was that the decision could not be made freely by a woman in consultation with her medical practitioner or with whomever else she sought to take advice from.

I support the bill, just as I opposed the legislation it seeks to overturn.

I thank Mr Stefaniak for the history he provided. I have made a pledge to myself not to respond to any baiting around the previous minister for health. I will stand by that pledge to myself. I am happy for any of my colleagues to say what they will or may. I thank you, Mr Stefaniak, for revealing the role which the pro-choice previous minister for health played in the development of the legislation I hope will be repealed tonight.

MR HARGREAVES (8.31): I am going to run for re-election in this place, so that I am here long enough to see the Chief Minister keep that pledge.

Mr Stanhope: I will.

MR HARGREAVES: I will believe it when I see it. I was not going to speak on this bill, because I have made my position known fairly clearly. But what Ms Tucker said made me sit back and think a little more. I do not know whether it was a result of the passion that we all displayed in the last debate, but I acknowledge that the quality of information going to people facing this horrendous decision has improved out of sight.

I stood up in this place and opposed the pictures of foetuses in the information, and I stand by that position. In the last debate years ago I said that I wanted to see information provided in an unbiased way. I was not interested in pictures of coathangers and I was not interested in pictures of foetuses. I wanted all possible information to be

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