Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 10 Hansard (Wednesday, 27 August 2008) . . Page.. 3857 ..
This is the information that women were subjected to under the legislation when they were making a decision about their body—a decision, for any range of reasons, which legislation just cannot comprehend or allow for. This is the information that was provided to women up to 2002 in this jurisdiction.
This is what Mr Gentleman’s motion goes to: this Assembly commit to maintaining the status quo and that we reaffirm out commitment to not make women undergo mandatory counselling; to not force a woman to make a joint declaration with a medical practitioner, to not force woman to view highly emotional literature and pictures of foetuses, under law; but that we allow the woman the opportunity to make her own decision, as she does of course—a fraught decision, obviously—without committing any offence under any legislation. That is what Mr Gentleman’s motion goes to.
In fact, if you go to Mr Pratt’s amendment, perhaps the most interesting part of the amendment would be paragraph (5):
providing greater support to women who experience crisis pregnancies is a matter of the greatest importance.
That indicates—and I think the argument was used at the time—that written declaration, pictures, information about foetal development, forced counselling and referral to appropriate services were all part of providing greater support to women who experienced crisis pregnancies. That was the argument used at the time and that is what you want us to accept tonight. I certainly do not accept that. I do not leave the door open on it, which is what Mr Pratt’s amendment does. Because what that says to us is that all of those who are going to support Mr Pratt’s amendment support going back to the future, back to 1998’s legislation, and that you do not support the status quo.
Mr Gentleman’s motion seeks to support the status quo, and Mr Pratt’s amendment to the motion, by stealth, seeks to reintroduce the archaic, patronising, condescending regime which this Assembly chose to repeal in 2002. And that is why I will be supporting Mr Gentleman’s motion. We know that those who support Mr Pratt’s amendment would be supportive of going back to a regime which was unacceptable to women in the past and will be unacceptable, patronising and condescending to women in the future if it is ever reintroduced.
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (10.15): Like Mr Hargreaves, I find this an extremely difficult issue. I know that several people on that side of the house take delight in castigating us on this side of the house, and I was rather disappointed by some of the rather venomous attacks tonight. I do believe in the sanctity of human life, but I will go on. I have listened to all the debate, and I am still looking at this motion and trying to work my head around it, because I feel straddled across a great divide. It is a somewhat mischievous motion. I have to say that it is mischievous, because, as Mrs Dunne and Mr Pratt quite rightly said, the issue of abortion has traditionally been a conscience vote for members of all major parties in all Australian jurisdictions.
The Leader of the Opposition said that the motion here is not reflective of the wide range of views in the community. Are we to be castigated and vilified for that? Some