Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2005) . . Page.. 2429 ..
that problem and will move to bring forward appropriate legislation that we all can accept and will address the problem that we see without necessarily having, as Dr Foskey quite adequately put it, unintended consequences. That is the concern of members on this side of the house.
Words fail me, I am sorry. But I do not think it confers much honour on Mrs Dunne to draw the conclusion that, because any person does not support this bill, they do not care. I think that is a fairly unworthy conclusion to draw. Everybody in this Assembly, I think, shares the concern; it is just we have a further concern. At the end of the day there are a number of us that will defend a woman’s right to choose and will defend women against assault against that and any thing that leads to an assault against a woman’s right to choose. If defending a woman’s right to choose is cowardice, then put me down as a coward.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (11.58): Following on Mr Quinlan’s points: I think Mr Pratt has been at pains, when introducing not only this bill but also a not dissimilar bill in the last Assembly, to stress that this has got nothing to do with the abortion debate about a woman’s right to choose or not to choose. He has specifically included in clause 5, proposed section 42A, provisions to ensure that this does not refer to legal abortions, anything done by a pregnant woman in relation to her own unborn child or a number of other things. It specifically removes it from the abortion debate.
It is also not about one single case, albeit the particularly horrendous case in relation to the matter of Phillip King, which my colleague Mrs Dunne has mentioned. Sadly, there are occasions—and I can recall one in the ACT, but I am not sure there were necessarily tragic consequences for the unborn child—when some particularly nasty individuals will assault a woman with the specific intention of trying to bring about the killing of an unborn child or, by injuring the unborn child, to somehow get at the woman.
You might come up with another type of aggravated assault in law. Obviously this bill is going down. I wait with interest to see what you are going to come up with. I suspect one additional section is not really going to cover the gamut of offences that we have seen in the past in relation to deliberate or totally reckless attempts either to kill or seriously injure an unborn child and perhaps in that way get to the woman or whatever.
I think one of my colleagues mentioned that, whilst we already have a significant number of offences against the person, men or women, an assault such as this is not necessarily going to cause grievous bodily harm to or intentionally wound a woman. It is not inconceivable that a woman might effectively be assaulted and have the defendant charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm in terms of the injuries the woman receives, whereas the child might well be killed or severely injured as a result of the attack. Quite clearly, the law is not adequate there. What we are looking at is someone deliberately trying to hurt an unborn, formed child, do serious harm to them, and the law is defective.
I understand that in some jurisdictions in the United States there are laws covering this, and they have worked quite well. New South Wales has either introduced very similar laws or may well have passed a not dissimilar law already in relation to this type of offence or series of offences in relation to assaults on women with a view to killing or seriously injuring an unborn child. These offences would add a significant new,