Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2005) . . Page.. 2425 ..
offender knew, or ought to have known, that the woman was pregnant; and whether the offender intended, or was reckless towards, causing the harm to the unborn child. In developing these provisions care is being taken to ensure that the following circumstances are covered as part of the offences we include within the Criminal Code:
• where the conduct causes the death of an unborn child or the loss of a mother’s pregnancy;
• where the conduct causes harm that endangers, or is likely to endanger, the natural course of development of the unborn child;
• where the conduct causes harm that is, or is likely to be, significant and longstanding in relation to the unborn child, including harm that will affect, or is likely to affect, the development of the unborn child following birth; for example, conduct that causes the unborn child to develop or to be likely to develop epilepsy;
• where a person transmits a serious disease to the unborn child; and
• culpable driving that results in death or serious injury to the unborn child.
That is the approach the government will be adopting. That is the essential nature of amendments to chapter 5 of the Criminal Code that will be introduced by this government in a few months time, as foreshadowed previously. All of those changes to the Criminal Code, which go to the same extent to protect a woman and her unborn child, are achieved without creating a separate legal personality for an embryo or foetus, as proposed by Mr Pratt.
There is no need for this Assembly, this parliament, to introduce into the law a separate legal personality for an embryo or foetus in a way that the law has never previously felt the need to do, for very good reasons. It creates a disconnection between a woman and her embryo or foetus. The law is awake, and has always been awake, to the difficulties of adopting that approach. It should be resisted; this bill should not be supported. I will not be supporting it for those very good reasons. It is unnecessary and it is directed at achieving an ideological positional point in relation to the status of an unborn child.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.41): It was a shame that the Chief Minister came in and lowered the tone of the debate. Again the Chief Minister, who is incapable of arguing this issue on its merits, came in and opened up the usual hoary chestnut about re-opening the abortion debate. As Mr Seselja has rightly said, whether we like it or not, the abortion debate will proceed in this community while ever there are people in this community having difficulty with their pregnancies in one form or another. By saying we cannot possibly have an abortion debate, or we should not do anything that might open it up, is entirely the wrong approach. What we have here is a wrong-headed approach from the Chief Minister and, I am sorry to say, I am really disappointed in the contribution from Dr Foskey as well.
I think we need to go back and look at some of the cases that have prompted this. Mr Seselja touched on the case of Kylie Flick and Phillip Nathan King. When Phillip Nathan King beat and stomped on the abdomen of Kylie Flick, his principal intention was not necessarily to inflict harm upon Kylie Flick; his intention was to inflict harm on and preferably bring about the death of the child that she bore. We can hedge around and talk about a nascent child, a foetus, an embryo; but his intention was clear.