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Queensland Parliament passes radical new abortion law

by | Oct 17, 2018

By Dave Andrusko

Editor’s note. As we were about to post our stories for today, we learned that “Queensland’s Parliament passed the conscience vote 50-41 on Wednesday. The vote allows Parliament Members to vote according to their personal belief rather than along party lines.” As a result, according to 10News, the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 “could take effect later this year.”

As NRL News Today reported last week [here and here], the Australian state of Queensland this week is in the middle of a ferocious and highly emotional debate over a bill that would legalize abortion up to 22 weeks gestation and “until birth with the permission of two doctors.” Currently abortion is illegal in Queensland, a state in Northeaster Australia, “except when a doctor believes a woman’s physical or mental health to be in serious danger.”

The Parliament set aside business for three entire days to debate a bill which is the product of the Queensland Law Reform Commission which in its June report recommended removing abortion from the Criminal Code.

Should the “Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018” pass, New South Wales would be the only state in Australia to retain its protective abortion laws.

Emotions ran high, according to multiple media reports. Felicity Caldwell of the Brisbane Times wrote a powerful account which began

Queensland MP Ted Sorensen broke down in tears during debate on abortion reform in Queensland Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, as he said his own birth was the result of an unwanted pregnancy.

Labor and LNP [Liberal National Party] politicians have been granted a conscience vote on a government bill to allow abortion on request up to 22 weeks, and introduce safe access zones around clinics.

“It’s very personal for me as my voice would never be heard here today as an unwanted pregnancy,” Mr Sorensen said.

“I stand here today as a survivor.

“If this law was present in those days I would not be alive to speak on behalf of all the babies who have the right to live, and I believe I had the right to live.”

Mr Sorensen said the bill could be called the “kill Ted bill”.

“Every baby has a right to live, whether it’s 20 weeks, whether it’s 22 weeks, there is a real baby there, I was one of them,” he said.

Pausing several times to compose himself, Mr Sorensen said he had a good life.

“I was fostered out at 13 months, but I’ve had a good life, I’ve been blessed,” he said.

“I have an adopted daughter; I love her greatly. Why should she have been terminated for? She’s grown up with us, she’s enjoyed life, she’s got two beautiful children.

“But this bill says we can terminate it all. Why?

(A conscience vote means a member is not bound to follow the policy adopted by his or her party.)

By contrast Steve Minnikin, another LNP Member said, “No one should be forced to endure a pregnancy they do not want when safe, modern, medical options are available to assist them,” adding,

“Mr Speaker, I am not pro-abortion. I am pro-choice, pro-autonomy.”

Last week LNP Leader Deb Frecklington said she would vote against the proposal and would speak during the debate. She spoke for almost 10 minutes, according to ABC.net’s Allyson Horn:

“The implication is that women in Queensland in 2018 risk punishment for having an abortion. That Deputy Speaker is simply not true. Women’s rights are not under attack from police or the courts and suggesting otherwise may stop some vulnerable women from seeking the help that they need….

“If vulnerable and desperate women were being dragged before the courts I would be the first to defend them.

“This bill is not about protecting women from persecution. So why is this legislation before the house? It is before us because of politics, pure and simple.”

At the moment, the vote is expected to be very, very close

Categories: Legislation