Page 2342 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 2 August 2017

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For some people who do not support the right to legal, safe terminations, a lot of them seem to be unaware of the impacts of bearing children on women. Until fairly recently this was the most common cause of death for women in that age group. Fortunately, now in Australia the situation is a lot better, although I point out that the rate of maternal death in childbirth in America is twice that in Australia. I think that is, to quite an extent, a result of the greater domination of conservative, male-oriented religious beliefs regarding the appropriate position of women in society. I think that is very sad. We are fortunate to live in a modern secular society here in Australia, and I feel very much for those women who are unfortunate enough to live in societies where there is more traditional religious domination.

As was pointed out by Ms Cheyne earlier, not all parts of Australia have legal access to pregnancy termination services. This is a real issue. The people who need these services and are unable to access them are, in many cases, the women who will find having an unwanted pregnancy most problematic. It is clear that women, even in this secular society, have the most responsibility for children. Having looked at the recent ABS statistics about time use, it is still women who do the domestic work and who look after the kids.

The decision as to whether or not to have a child overwhelmingly impacts on the woman. We organise the child care, we take the kids to and from school, we cook, we wash, we work part time, with significant impacts on our long-term financial futures. We all know that women’s super is much less than men’s. It is not because we are less capable; it is because of the other things in general that we have to do as part of being a woman and a child raiser.

With respect to the motion, I thank the Leader of the Opposition for making his personal position clear on this issue, and I respect him for that. This is clearly a highly emotional and personal position. That position, reasonably, is his personal position; it should not be a position that he, his party or anyone seeks to impose on other people, and in particular on other women who may be in the difficult situation of having to decide what to do.

As human beings, we all have the right to control over our bodies, and the right to legal terminations is part of that right. I thank Ms Cheyne for this motion. I think it is unfortunate that this is an issue which is still being debated. Centuries after the medical technology for safe abortions came about, we should not still be debating whether or not women have the right to have them.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Women and Minister for Sport and Recreation) (11.51): I begin by making a point about what motions are or are not appropriate to bring into this place, and how often they can be referred to. I strongly believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong with newer members in this place, young women, bringing motions into the Assembly to celebrate the gains that have already been made—particularly in this case; to ensure the rights and protections of women; and to maintain constant vigilance to ensure that the rights and protections of women continue.

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