Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3855 ..
The number of times I have heard politicians get up and almost universally say, regardless of how they vote on these issues, they are concerned about the numbers of abortions is amazing. I think that is a concern that is shared by many in the community. The reintroduction of criminal sanctions is not the solution. That is clear. We have seen in the past, I would suggest, not much difference in practice from before, when it was criminalised, and subsequently. I think that there are many of us in the community who do believe in the sanctity of human life and who particularly would be very concerned about young women in some way being criminalised. I think that those who have a genuine view on this would never seek to attack young women who find themselves in really difficult circumstances.
The final part of the amendment goes to “providing greater support to women who experience crisis pregnancies”, and I think that is something that we should all agree on. This is something that a number of us are involved with, in organisations such as Karinya House who do provide that kind of support. I think they do an outstanding job. I believe the government does give them some funding but they are a group that I have always been proud to support in whatever way possible because they do provide that on-the-ground support to young women who find themselves in really difficult situations.
This is an amendment that I can certainly support. I will not be supporting this motion. I do not believe it is reflective of the range of views in the community. I do not believe that it is something that I can in good conscience support. I do believe in the importance of protecting human life. I do not shy away from that; I do not shy away from those views. That is who I am but I think that this amendment provides an excellent balance and is something that I am very proud to support. I will be voting in favour of it.
MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Minister for Health, Minister for Children and Young People, Minister for Disability and Community Services, Minister for Women) (10.05): I thank Mr Gentleman for the opportunity to talk to this motion tonight. My comments and my views on abortion are well known; they are public; they are based on principle; and they have remained constant. In fact, Mr Speaker, I worked alongside you in your groundbreaking legislation to decriminalise abortion back in 2002, when I moved my own amendments to another piece of legislation to provide additional protection for women and medical practitioners who were providing a service for women who were terminating their pregnancy.
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to support Mr Gentleman’s motion tonight. Whilst others have talked about the complexity of this issue and that this motion seems to try to simplify it, my response to that would be that this motion simply seeks to maintain a view on the status quo. This is reaffirming what the current arrangements are for women who seek to have a termination of their pregnancy. That is all it does. It is not really a complex issue. It does not seek consensus; it merely calls on the Assembly, through a motion of which there is hardly ever a consensus in this place, to commit to the status quo.
I think Mr Mulcahy’s comments earlier tonight really go straight to the issue of why we are discussing this tonight. Mr Mulcahy, in his comments, felt that it was a waste