Page 264 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2006

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so much as proposing any amendments to it, the government has now been forced into tabling legislation similar to that of the opposition due to public outcry at its having rejected my bill.

The government failed to initiate this process. In fact, there has been an outcry around the country as to the loopholes that exist in law about protection of the unborn. Perhaps the Chief Minister is finally bending to that outcry. It took pressure from the opposition and the public for the government to do something. It did not take the initiative and bring in protection for pregnant mothers and their unborn children. The government had to be brought kicking and screaming to do something after New South Wales and other states either brought in similar laws or began to evaluate existing laws with a view to doing something about the loopholes that exist in law around the country.

Pregnant women and their unborn children have been less protected than they should have been by law for a couple of extra years. We could have resolved this issue in this place a couple of years ago. We have been in limbo legally in terms of the protection of women because pride took precedence over initiating sensible law. The Stanhope bill mirrors the opposition’s rejected bill in some ways—

Mr Stanhope: I take a point of order, Mr Speaker. It does not bother me unduly, but the member is consistently reflecting on votes taken in this place in relation to the previous bills that were debated and defeated, which really is not appropriate.

MR SPEAKER: It is disorderly to reflect on past votes, Mr Pratt. Discontinue that, please.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I take note of your ruling. That is fine. I am sorry; I seem to have rubbed the fur the wrong way.

Mr Stanhope: No, you were disorderly.

MR PRATT: I was disorderly and I have rubbed the fur the wrong way. Thank you, Chief Minister. The offences in relation to pregnant women in this latest proposal by the government are offences made against the woman herself and the unborn child has no separate identity. The Stanhope bill provides that an aggravated offence will apply if one of the general offences was committed against a pregnant woman and the commission of the offence caused the loss of, or serious harm to, the pregnancy or the death of, or serious harm to, a child born alive—a child born alive—as a result of the pregnancy but injured prior to birth.

The bill incorporates provisions into the Crimes Act to create aggravated offences for the following offences: manslaughter, intentionally inflicting grievous bodily harm, recklessly inflicting grievous bodily harm, wounding, inflicting actual bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, culpable driving of a motor vehicle causing death, which I will talk about a bit later, and culpable driving of a motor vehicle causing grievous bodily harm. That is all very useful. That is all useful up to a point. The concerning factor now, as identified in the government’s explanatory statement, is that the Human Rights Act 2004 constrains the identity of the unborn child as an individual. The Human Rights Act 2004 explicitly states that the right to life applies only from the time of birth. Therefore, the government’s position is that, until a child is born alive, any

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