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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2611 ..

The Assembly voted-

Ayes 6 Noes 11

Mr Cornwell Mr Berry Ms MacDonald

Mrs Dunne Mr Corbell Mr Quinlan

Mr Humphries Mrs Cross Mr Stanhope

Mr Pratt Ms Dundas Ms Tucker

Mr Smyth Ms Gallagher Mr Wood

Mr Stefaniak Mr Hargreaves

Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendments negatived.

MRS DUNNE (9.46): Mr Deputy Speaker, I move the amendment circulated in my name relating to section 55E [see schedule 2 at page 2633].

This brings up to date and fills out Ms Gallagher's proposal about what is being called conscientious objection. I see it as a little neater and a little more comprehensive, because what my amendment proposes will ensure that not only individuals, but institutions or bodies are exempt from any obligation to carry out an abortion. I move this amendment with some deliberation because there are institutions in this town that, at the moment, have a policy which makes it impossible for them to carry out abortions, and it would be improper for this legislature to conscript them into doing so.

In addition, I have also suggested an amendment that would ensure that medical practitioners, nurses or institutions who, for conscientious reasons, cannot perform an abortion, are not forced to refer a patient to someone else. That would be, as I said in my opening remarks this morning, making them accessories to something in which they would not participate of their own volition. It would be wrong for us to exercise our conscience and, in doing so, limit the conscience of members of the community, members of the medical fraternity, members of the nursing fraternity and the staff of some of our institutions. I commend the amendment to the Assembly and seek members' support.

MR BERRY (9.48): I will be opposing this amendment and I will be supporting Ms Tucker's amendment, which she has yet to move, but which has been circulated. The result of Mrs Dunne's position is that a patient who is seeking this procedure would not be able to obtain advice from a medical practitioner, if that practitioner chose not to give it, about where or from whom the patient might be able to access this procedure. I think that is unconscionable.

I think, too, that it probably conflicts with the code of ethics of the Australian Medical Association. They would not be very happy about, I would think. I am certainly not happy about it. I think that, if somebody is of the view that they are not able to assist in this matter, I accept that they should not be required to conduct the procedure against his or her will. That matter is dealt with, of course, in Ms Gallagher's amendment. However, I do think that they ought to be obliged to tell the person seeking assistance about the procedure and where the person would be able to obtain it.

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