Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2630 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
In these circumstances, Mr Deputy Speaker, the power balance in the relationship between the parent, the partner and the doctor can in no way be described as equal. Women often make decisions which will affect them and which many of them will later regret for their lives while in a highly emotional state.
This amendment seeks to put an end to a situation where a woman is told that if she does not have an abortion her boyfriend or her husband will leave her and she will be without support. It would mean that no longer could parents get away with threatening to turn their daughters out of house and home unless they got an abortion. Quite frankly, parents who would do that to a child deserve the penalty of the law-perhaps not 10 years in jail, but they do deserve to be punished because they have punished their child in a way that is entirely inappropriate. No longer could an abortionist attempt to have a patient held down when she had second thoughts, and that does happen. All of these things could become offences under the Crimes Act.
I am aware that we have changed the rules today and that we no longer live in a society in which abortion is prima facie illegal. I am aware of it and I am ashamed, but I still want to proceed with this bill. As I said when I introduced it, whether or not abortion is illegal in the ACT, surely no-one in this Assembly would claim that it is acceptable for a woman to be forced to have an abortion.
The Chief Minister has said that it is not acceptable for a woman to be forced to have an abortion. Let him put his money where his mouth is, put his vote where his principles are, and support women who are being forced to do something which they will later regret while they are in a highly emotional state or a situation of duress.
Some members-Mr Hargreaves was one-questioned whether the bill would be enforceable. I wish I could say that the law always was, just as I wish that I could say that we could always catch and convict rapists. In practice, some of the more subtle forms of coercion, both abortion and rape, will be impossible to prove. Often, as with rape, it will be impossible to prove beyond reasonable doubt on the uncorroborated evidence of a victim alone. But I do not think that that is a case for abandoning legislation which is just. Just because there are evidentiary difficulties associated with this matter, we should not abandon it. We do not abandon a case of rape because there are difficulties with evidence. I commend the bill to the house.
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
The Assembly voted-
Ayes 5 Noes 12
Mrs Dunne Mr Berry Mr Hargreaves
Mr Humphries Mr Corbell Ms MacDonald
Mr Pratt Mr Cornwell Mr Quinlan
Mr Smyth Mrs Cross Mr Stanhope
Mr Stefaniak Ms Dundas Ms Tucker
Ms Gallagher Mr Wood