Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2005) . . Page.. 2431 ..
jurisdictions that deals with these types of matters. If we are serious about protecting a woman, who wants her baby to be born, from some person who deliberately wants to harm that woman, through harming her unborn child—which I think all of us would agree is a particularly nasty type of offence—then this legislation is entirely appropriate. It covers the range of situations in which that will occur and, I would say, covers it far better than any aggravated assault provisions that the Chief Minister might bring in later this year.
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (12.07): I stand to strongly support Mr Pratt’s bill. Obviously, as we have heard from members in this place, Mr Pratt has fought long and hard for the rights of the unborn child. Much debate has gone on about where life begins. As legislators, we are surely charged with protecting the rights of every individual. I must say that it is a quite strange case that the Greens put forward today.
Surely any woman who wants to keep her baby would be devastated at the premature loss of that baby through unlawful killing or murder of that unborn child, but it seems now that, in some quirky debate, it has got around to the fact that we have a position being taken that you can have a choice, as long as it is abortion. The legislation, carefully and considerately thought out by Mr Pratt, does not remove that right of choice for women regarding pregnancy and abortion.
At the moment what we have is no protection for the rights of women who lose their baby through intentional injury, manslaughter, unlawful killing or murder of an unborn child. Surely one must have to ask: who, of any of us, can stand and say who is and who is not a human life? I think the people best placed to make this call are pregnant women. It is our job, as legislators, to ensure that we protect the rights of unborn children.
Mr Stanhope says this bill would cause angst. I put to the Chief Minister: what about the rights of that woman who was stomped on? Where were her rights? It is not for the Chief Minister or any of us to decide for a pregnant woman whether the child that she is carrying has rights. I add a side note here. I presume that when a man and a woman have sexual intercourse a baby is the result; it will not produce a puppy dog. It is a baby. They produce a baby, and a baby grows up. It is a baby. It is quite easy for a pregnant woman to know when life begins, therefore. I would suggest that the Chief Minister does not have the authority, with respect, to stand in this place and make that call.
Mr Pratt cites many examples in his original tabling and subsequent speeches about one of the tragic outcomes for Byron Shields, who lost his life less than two months from his expected birth, following a hit-and-run on his mother by a drink-driver. As we have heard, the driver escaped a conviction for manslaughter because the court ruled that a seven-month old foetus was not human. How would that leave that woman feeling?
We have a gap in the legislation. I understand that the government is well aware of the gap in legislation. But how sorrowful and woeful is it for women out there who have suffered that it has taken this government over three years to get something done about it. Their inaction is just astounding.
Mr Stanhope’s position on this matter is very obvious. He sits there laughing, jibing and sniping at the opposition who stand up for people’s human rights. He simply has demonstrated, by his comments today, his disregard for and his opinion of the unborn or