Page 3840 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 September 2018

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It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the work of my ACT Labor colleagues both in the chamber and across the broader movement, past and present, in progressing the important reforms we have embarked on this year in our work to support Ms Le Couteur’s bill.

As a government, we have a responsibility to ensure that people have access to safe and appropriate health care and services while respecting their rights to choose their own path. The bill demonstrates the progressive action the ACT government is prepared to take in progressing women’s rights to safe, accessible health care. I commend the bill and the circulated amendments to the Assembly.

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 Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (5.39): I would like to speak in support of the amendment bill and the government’s amendments. I would like to acknowledge the work that has been taken to ensure that we can achieve the best outcome for Canberra women and people with reproductive ability.

I have said it many times: it is a woman’s right to make choices about her body. That is exactly how it should be, Madam Speaker. It is also important to remember that it is our responsibility to ensure that the policies and laws governing the choices that women can make about their bodies and their lives are serving the needs of the ACT community.

It has been 15 years since the act of procuring an abortion in the ACT was removed from the Crimes Act. I want to pay tribute to the group of members in this place from across the political spectrum who voted for decriminalisation. Led by my father, Wayne Berry, these members expressed their respect and support for women to make choices about their own bodies and lives, and successfully made this important change. History tells that story.

Since then we have had an ongoing responsibility to continue reform and to not be afraid to raise this issue so that women are not persecuted for making difficult decisions about their lives. And we have, in legislating to protect women who access this health service by establishing an exclusion zone for protest and harassment. More recently, the health minister, Meegan Fitzharris, has undertaken a review, an action under the ACT woman’s plan, into abortion services in the ACT, to look at the barriers that women face when accessing health services. I look forward to hearing more about the review when it is completed, but I expect that it will say that we can do more to ensure that all women and people with reproductive ability have access to the service they need on their own terms.

I want to move specifically to the issue of medical abortion and talk about a recent conversation that I had with a group of young women who have been advocating for greater affordability and accessibility of abortion, particularly GP-prescribed medical abortion for Canberra women.

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