Page 3858 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 27 August 2008

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of the comments made tonight have been extremely venomous, and that is disappointing. Woe betide those who dare to disagree with the government’s position or hold a different position to that which is put here—and there is a wide range of views. Mr Corbell said that those who seek to choose abortion should do so without shame. I agree, and I am staggered, again, that Ms Gallagher would not want organisations like Karinya House to exist. She is saying she does not want support for women who may be on the cusp of saying, “Do I get rid of this baby? I don’t want it. I can’t cope. Or shall I try to work through it and keep the baby?” Support for women, Ms Gallagher seems to be saying, is not a good idea. Mr Pratt’s amendment says that providing greater support to women who experience crisis pregnancies is a matter of the greatest importance. How can you say it is not?

Women who seek to have an abortion should do so without shame. Unfortunately, Mr Speaker, you were very venomous, and there was a lot of finger wagging, particularly aimed at me. I will not really go into too much detail here, but women who choose to have an abortion need compassion and understanding, just as do those women who choose to keep their babies under very difficult circumstances. Members have no idea about the personal lives of other members and those of our families. I will not say any more than that, but this goes to the heart of why this is so difficult for me. I have views about the sanctity of life, yet I have compassion in my heart for those women who choose to have an abortion.

Life is all about choice, and if abortion is a woman’s choice, then it is her business, but it is not her business alone, and I will go on to that later. It is a complex issue and one that should not have been politicised like it was tonight. Paragraph 2 of Mr Pratt’s amendment says that members of the Assembly and the community have a range of views on this subject, and paragraph (3) says that, regardless of those views, the incidence of abortion in our society is a concern. We would all say that, regardless of whether it is the backstreet variety or whatever it is. It is a traumatic occasion for a woman, her partner and her family to have to go through.

This matter should not have been politicised. Very sadly and very pathetically, the debate really was about drawing out members for political purposes. As angry as you got, Mr Speaker, I respect your view; I respect it 100 per cent. We should respect one another’s views on what has always been and will be a conscience vote for members. Mr Gentleman’s motion talks of recognising the ACT Legislative Assembly’s progressive law reform in the area of abortion and a woman’s right to choose. I have thought about this, too, and there has been mention made of several things that happened a few years ago when I was not here.

I am not sure if Mr Gentleman realises this, but it was a great pity that this appeal by him goes directly against the decisions of some of his Labor colleagues who supported the abolition of the Osborne bill in 2002. Why do I say that? Because the Osborne bill talked about the needs of women and a woman’s right to choose. Effectively, what happened—Ms Gallagher delighted in giving some graphic details—was that it took away the choice to abolish a woman-centred approach to decisions about abortion.

I have always made my position clear about abortion—personally, I am against it and would, wherever possible, choose to save life and not destroy it. We are hearing more

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