Today, it is with great pride that I rise to introduce the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020, not because it is easy but because it is a historic day for the women of South Australia and their families. Yet it is also tinged with disappointment that we are the last state in the country to decriminalise abortion and allow it to take place in anything other than a legally mandated hospital with the approval of two doctors. Formally, the bill repeals division 17 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 and creates a new standalone act to regulate the termination of pregnancy as a lawful medical procedure.
Abortion law reform has been the subject of considerable discussion over recent years, both locally and interstate, and is an incredibly emotive topic for many in the community. I find it personally disappointing that some have deliberately inflamed tensions and sought to use abortion as a political weapon. In 1969, South Australia became the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate for the lawful medical treatment and termination of pregnancy. Over 50 years have passed since those laws were first enacted. In that time, there have been significant changes to clinical practice in this area, including the advent of early medication abortion.
As a result of this and other developments, it is clear that South Australia's laws no longer reflect best clinical practice and have instead become a barrier to health care access for many women and their families, particularly in country areas, so this must be remedied. To that end, on 2 February 2019, I asked the South Australian Law Reform Institute to inquire into and report in relation to the topic of abortion law reform, with the aim of modernising the law in South Australia and adopting what is best practice reforms in relation to the lawful regulation of terminations.
Referral of abortion law reform to SALRI for proper investigation to consider recommendations for reform based on best practice in this area and with the guidance of other jurisdictions was considered the most suitable way to achieve effective, modern and appropriate reform of abortion laws in South Australia. It is a big topic, and it is a big subject to canvass.
Ultimately, SALRI presented to me its report on 31 October 2019. The SALRI report made 66 recommendations, including that abortion should be removed from the criminal law and treated as a public health issue. As noted by SALRI, abortion raises many ethical, medical, legal and other issues and implications. It attracts strong, emotional and often conflicting views, both from those directly affected and the wider community.
The development of a suitable legislative framework for the lawful termination of pregnancy required, I suggest, sensitivity and careful consideration to ensure a moderate and suitable way forward was identified. This bill before the parliament is a combination of the work of SALRI and the Attorney-General's Department as an important matter of law reform. I have personally carefully considered the SALRI report and the submissions of members of the public and stakeholders, and I am confident that the right balance has been struck.
Consistent with the recommendations of the SALRI report, but by no means accepting all of its recommendations, this bill that I now present for consideration repeals abortion from the criminal law and creates a new standalone act to regulate the termination of pregnancy as a lawful medical procedure.
In recognising that abortion should be treated as a healthcare issue, the bill makes it clear that a person who performs, consents to, assists in or attempts to perform a termination on themselves does not commit an offence. The bill is informed and guided by the principles of best clinical practice and promotes and respects patient decision-making by removing a number of barriers which currently impede access to abortion care services.
The bill allows for a medical practitioner to perform a termination on a person who is not more than 22 weeks and six days pregnant. Thereafter, the bill provides that a termination may be performed by a medical practitioner on a person who is more than 22 weeks and six days pregnant, where the medical practitioner has consulted with another medical practitioner and both practitioners consider that, in all of the circumstances, the termination is medically appropriate.
In determining whether a termination is medically appropriate, a medical practitioner must—not may, must—consider all the relevant medical circumstances and the professional standards and guidelines that apply to the medical practitioner in relation to the performance of that termination. The College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has a position statement on this, which along with reams of other information has been circulated to members of the parliament. It is important that this information is available. Of course it is complicated, and not many of us have medical training—I certainly do not—but it is important we acknowledge that the agencies and the experts in this field have provided that material so that it might assist us in being satisfied of that presentation.
While SALRI recommended the absolute removal of gestational limits, I made it clear I did not agree with this. It is my view that the gestational limit of 22 weeks and six days most closely aligns with current clinical practice in other Australian jurisdictions and is the preferred limit of Wellbeing SA, and it is in this bill.
Importantly, the bill will also allow for a registered health practitioner to perform a termination on a person by administering a prescription drug, or by prescribing a drug, provided the practitioner is acting in the ordinary scope of their profession and is authorised to do so under the Controlled Substances Act 1984. This supports the now very common process of a non-surgical termination. This position reflects SALRI's recommendation that the categories of persons authorised to perform terminations should not be confined to medical practitioners but should where appropriate include other registered health practitioners who are suitably credentialled to perform such procedures within the ordinary scope of their profession, for example, our nurse practitioners.
In keeping with modern health practices, the bill removes a number of outdated requirements that currently act as a barrier to access for women, especially in rural and regional communities, including (1) that women be personally examined by two medical practitioners prior to seeking a termination and (2) that women must have resided in the state for at least two months prior to a termination. The bill also removes the requirement for terminations to be carried out in a prescribed hospital. This represents an important step forward in removing restrictions such that women can access a GP clinic or telemedicine as part of their consultation.
In accordance with the SALRI recommendations, the bill preserves the right of a registered health practitioner to conscientiously object to perform, assist in or provide advice in relation to a termination of pregnancy. These provisions were drafted in very close consultation over quite some time with the Australian Medical Association and reflect their state and federal principles. I am particularly grateful to Dr Chris Moy for his assistance in this regard as the President of the AMA. It is important that they have settled upon what they see as important for their members, their medical practitioners, to be protected and provided for within the envelope of conscientious objection.
In the circumstances where a registered health practitioner conscientiously objects to a termination of pregnancy, the bill requires that the practitioner immediately disclose their conscientious objection to the patient. Furthermore, in the case of an objection to performing a termination or providing advice about the performance of a termination, the bill requires the practitioner to either transfer the care of a patient to another registered health practitioner, who in the first practitioner's opinion can provide the requested service and does not hold a conscientious objection, or provide the patient with information on how to locate or contact such a registered health practitioner.
This should be in the manner of a prescribed form, as in New South Wales, with the contact details of the health department and/or QR code. In short, it provides for the right to conscientiously object. They simply have to disclose their conscientious objection to the patient and either refer them to someone else who can do it or provide them with a health service that can provide that referral and that it be in the prescribed form.
For the avoidance of doubt, the bill also provides that the right of conscientious objection does not extend to override any duty owed by a registered health practitioner to otherwise perform or assist in the performance of a termination in an emergency, or to provide aftercare or any ancillary treatment associated with the termination of pregnancy. Again, I thank the AMA for working with me personally, and with those who are advising, to make sure that we protect this circumstance where a medical practitioner wishes to be a conscientious objector and still make some provision for a service referral to the patients.
The bill also establishes an offence for unqualified persons who perform or assist in the performance of a termination. There is a clear public interest in protecting the public from dangerous and unsafe medical practices carried out by persons who are not authorised or qualified to carry out terminations of pregnancy. However, the bill also ensures that proceedings for the offence will only be able to be initiated with the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. This is an important safeguard to ensure that proceedings for the offence will only be instituted in circumstances where there is a public interest for the offence to be prosecuted.
Related amendments have also been made to the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 to expressly include coercive conduct in relation to the termination of pregnancy as an act of abuse within the meaning of the act. Put simply again, for someone who is going to exert pressure on someone who is pregnant either to have a child or not—that is, to have a termination or not—that coercive control will be part of intervention orders protection in our state with this amendment. Provision has also been made for the publication and use of information relating to the termination of pregnancy.
A further added requirement to be removed is that of residency, specifically that a pregnant person needs to be resident in the state for the prior two months. A mother contacted me recently as her pregnant daughter was overseas and unable to return due to COVID restrictions, and abortion was punishable by imprisonment there. I understand she was finally able to return to Australia but had to undergo a termination in Sydney as it was unlawful here. This is an unacceptable circumstance: that South Australians are required to be resident here.
The rejection of the measures in the bill will mean that women will be forced to travel interstate for the health care they need. I urge members to appreciate the significance of the distress, inconvenience and cost unreasonably placed on women in these circumstances. These reforms represent a significant step forward in removing the outdated barriers to access for women and improving the availability of abortion health services across South Australia, particularly for rural and regional areas of the state.
I will address each of the concerns and the amendments that come before this house in greater detail during my second reading reply; and, of course, I want to listen carefully to those who raised concerns as to how they might be addressed by way of amendment. I just advise the house that I propose to respond in detail to those matters after listening carefully to those contributions, and, of course, they will doubtless be raised in the committee stage.
I must emphasise to the parliament from the outset that I will not outsource good lawmaking on social reform issues to the extremes of this parliament or any other extremes in the community. Members will be asked to give consideration to amendments, which I urge them to respectfully do, but to consider them in relation to the circumstances of the ill that they are attempting to cure.
Amendments put forward as a purported compromise that restrict access for women, I suggest, are being done to frustrate the bill. It may be, however, that there are amendments. I note that amendments have been tabled by the member for King—who I think takes her legislative obligations very seriously, as I would hope all members do—which ensure that the bill operates as intended, and I indicate my support for these and am grateful to her.
The fundamental premise of the bill is that members of parliament are being asked to trust women and to trust their medical team when it comes to the issue of late-term abortion. This is not a controversial position when we trust doctors with every other medical decision we make in our life. Decisions will not be made morally better, morally easier, simply because it becomes a justification within a statute.
I fundamentally reject the premise that this bill makes it easier to obtain a late-term abortion. I fundamentally reject that. It is a nonsense. There is no such thing as abortion to birth, because it is never medically appropriate—I repeat that: it is never medically appropriate—to terminate a healthy baby at term for no reason whatsoever. Find me a doctor who agrees to this, and I will refer him or her to the regulator myself.
I have also been accused, as have other proponents of this bill, of lacking the courage of my convictions for not explicitly legislating grounds for late-term termination. On the strong advice of my department, which I do value, including parliamentary counsel, let me say this: it is hardly controversial to say that, by prescribing a list of circumstances, we will inadvertently include circumstances we do not want and exclude circumstances we do want.
That is the challenge of lawmaking, and that is the consequence if it cannot be done accurately; and even the movers of amendments promoting this in another place could not adequately explain the consequences of that occurring with those amendments. So, I do urge members to think very clearly about the consequences and ask the question about what we are going to do in trying to be too prescriptive when they are asked to consider those matters.
I suggest that what is best is to allow doctors to use their best clinical judgement, which this bill allows, within the clinical standards within which they have to operate. I have been accused of many things in my career, but lack of courage is not one of them. I am always prepared to have a fight on a principle, and regardless of whether it turns out that I am right or wrong, I will put my views on the record and make the public and my constituents judge me accordingly.
Throughout my over eight-year partnership with the Premier, we have had many discussions about conscience matters. I trust his judgement and I think he trusts mine on a number of these issues. We consider them as part of our responsibility as being members of parliament here and in formulating policy in relation to social issues. I value his advice. I think I am stronger in the presentation of what I present to the parliament and to you for that, and I thank the Premier for that.
I also consider, not entirely consistent with what the South Australian Law Reform Institute recommended but in consultation, after significant consideration, with the clinicians and lawyers and the professional associations and with the widest possible consultation, that I am presenting to you something that will be workable, respectful and effective.
I am proud to serve in the Marshall government and, of course, to be labelled from time to time as a reformist Attorney-General, but today I am presenting to you a bill as the member for Bragg, a bill in the mould of my predecessor, the first member for Bragg, Dr David Tonkin, who introduced in this very house, probably standing somewhere here, perhaps on the other side at that stage, the very first anti-discrimination law in Australia. I am proud to follow in his footsteps. I am proud to have the courage to be able to take on reform when we need to do that, but I do recognise the sensitivity of what is before us, and I again say how important it is that we are respectful of that—all of us.
I suggest that this bill does reflect the best clinical practice, promotes patient decision-making and respects the individual choice and autonomy of the patient while ensuring the appropriate safeguarding measures are in place where necessary. These are all fundamentally liberal principles in the form of a bill acceptable to Liberal MPs, as seen most recently in New South Wales.
I wish to thank my department, especially Emily Carr and Joanna Martin, for their tireless work, and the staff of parliamentary counsel. It is an enormous body of legislative work, and I thank them advance because the parliament will have the benefit of their continued advice during committee, as was the case in the Legislative Council, to ensure that members in considering these matters have much information available to them in considering the bill and/or any amendment.
I also place on the record my great appreciation to the AMA, the Law Society of South Australia, the staff at the Pregnancy Advisory Centre and the Women's and Children's Hospital, SALRI, Professor Rosalie Grivell from the royal college, and SAAAC for their advice and assistance. It has been a long period to develop this bill and I think it has been valuably contributed to by all of those and many others, and I thank them for that contribution.
I strongly commend the bill to members here and I seek leave to table the explanation of the clauses, which I understand I need to do because I understand you have not received this from the other place. Apparently they are already in the possession of the parliament, so I table that.
The SPEAKER: I take this opportunity, in the somewhat unusual circumstances of a private member's bill being debated in government time, to draw attention to standing order 113 and, in particular, the provisions for time and the provision for the nomination of a lead speaker. I will leave that matter in the hands of honourable members and indicate that, unless and until a member indicates they are the lead speaker in accord with standing order 113, the time limits otherwise applicable to that standing order will apply to the debate in the second reading.
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Point of clarification: do I assume that means that, unless someone identifies they are a lead speaker for a group within the parliament, they all have 20 minutes?
The SPEAKER: On the point of order, what I would propose to do in this regard, mindful that the standing order refers specifically to 'the Leader of the Opposition or a member deputed by him or her has the capacity to speak on unlimited time', I would leave that for the house for the time being—the mover having spoken with unlimited time—and just indicate that I will not seek an indication now or from any speaker about that. If there is no such indication, then a speaker will have the time allocated for debate in the usual course, so it would be 20 minutes.
Ms HILDYARD (Reynell) (12:36): I, too, rise to speak in support of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020, which seeks to update antiquated legislation that deems the termination of pregnancy a criminal act here in South Australia. In doing so, I wholeheartedly acknowledge the mover of this bill (the member for Bragg), who is indeed brave, those who supported this bill in the other place and the thousands of women and the people who supported them, who campaigned 50 years ago for change and on whose shoulders we stand as we debate this bill before us today.
Together, we consider much-needed modern social reform for South Australian women. In rising to speak, I also acknowledge that for many members of parliament, and indeed many members of our South Australian community, this issue can generate deep emotion and provoke intense thought. It is certainly an issue that I have deeply contemplated and one that elicits strong feelings for me.
It is right that in this debate, as in every debate, our thinking and our emotions shape our words and actions and that we listen to the thoughts and the feelings of others. However, it is also absolutely utterly crucial that, as we contemplate this issue as legislators, we also base our words, our decisions and our votes on facts and that we reject all to do with this issue that is not based in fact. It is our absolute responsibility as legislators to do so.
It is a fact, as was the case in 1969—the last time this matter was substantially addressed—that advances in medicine and in our community have been made and that changes to our laws are required to reflect these developments. It is a fact that the developments we are progressing through this bill are reflected in other jurisdictions. Decriminalisation of abortion has occurred in every other Australian state and territory without an increase in the number of terminations, including the very rare instances of late-term terminations.
Ending a pregnancy is a deeply personal decision, and any associated trauma should not be exacerbated by it being deemed a criminal act. We must approach these issues with a deep trust in women and indeed with a deep trust in her healthcare professionals. If women are faced with the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy, we should demonstrate love, kindness and compassion and never, ever judgement. As we contemplate this legislation, we should also demonstrate love, kindness, truth and compassion, never judgement.
I know that many from faith communities have put forward varying views about this bill and that many have, in turn, spoken about those varying views from faith communities. As a person of faith, my view is that demonstrating truth, love, kindness and compassion in our decision-making, in our consideration of the facts presented to us, including in relation to this bill, must prevail. I support this bill with those things in my mind and in my heart and with deep thought about the facts that we all know.
We know safe access to abortion is widely supported across our nation and in South Australia and it has been for many, many years. Gallup polling consistently shows just 20 per cent of Australians oppose decriminalisation. It is over time that our parliament acknowledges this and passes legislation that reflects today's community sentiment.
We are not here to debate a woman's right to have an abortion. That argument was had and settled in the affirmative decades ago. What we are here to debate is the removal of abortion from the criminal code into health legislation and what that actually signifies. What the passing of this bill will signify is that we, as a parliament and as a community, do indeed, as we rightly should, trust women and trust healthcare professionals.
The fact is that the number of terminations in South Australia has been steadily declining for more than 20 years. Much of the opposition to this bill, including through many letters, emails, representations and telephone calls to my office, has focused on the very emotive issue of late-term terminations. I wholeheartedly support people respectfully taking the opportunity to have their say and I thank everyone for doing so—that is what our democracy is all about enabling.
I say also today that I have contemplated carefully correspondence from both supporters and opponents of this bill. I have extensively read and listened to medical and legal experts and have determined, based on the facts they have presented to me, that late-term terminations are, and will continue to be, extremely rare. They are only ever undertaken when a woman and a medical team agree it is medically appropriate not to continue with a pregnancy.
Late-term terminations are simply not, nor will they ever be in the future, undertaken in anything but the most serious, complex and often heartbreaking circumstances. Terminations after 20 weeks are very rare and almost non-existent beyond 24 weeks. This bill will absolutely not facilitate such procedures taking place more frequently than they do now.
As they do now, healthcare teams will continue to act in accordance with regulations and laws and late-term abortions will continue not to be performed unless deemed medically appropriate by two doctors. As the member for Bragg has said, nothing in this bill enables abortion on demand, nor abortion up to birth. People seeking terminations do so often in very difficult circumstances and never, ever just because of a change of mind. I call on members of this house to trust people going through this extraordinarily difficult situation and to think of them with love, with kindness, with compassion and absolutely without judgement.
This bill will not enable sex selection. As I have said, as is the case with every other health procedure, a termination will only be undertaken for medically appropriate reasons with consideration of the medical risks. The Consent to Medical Treatment and Palliative Care Act 1995 requires healthcare professionals to discuss all treatment options with women as part of obtaining informed consent. This will absolutely not change as a result of this bill.
This bill contains protections for the small number of conscientious objectors within the medical profession who do not wish to provide these services due to their own personal beliefs. If performing a termination conflicts with those personal beliefs, a practitioner can object to undertaking or assisting with the procedure, inform the person and take whatever steps are necessary to assist with the transfer of their care to another registered health practitioner who does not hold such an objection.
It is a fact that this bill will not open up terminations being performed by anyone other than qualified and registered healthcare practitioners. Nothing in this bill removes or reduces Therapeutic Goods Administration requirements for a registered medical practitioner to prescribe or manage early medical abortion medicines.
The bill will amend the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 to specifically recognise coercive conduct in relation to the termination of pregnancy as an act of abuse within the meaning of the act. This shockingly common form of domestic abuse involves women being forced by partners to either have an abortion or to continue with the pregnancy or to get pregnant or to not get pregnant. This is an important change that will hopefully further deter this kind of insidious abuse. This bill will also improve access to early abortion services for women in rural and remote areas.
In this debate I once again urge people to be guided by compassion, love, kindness and fact. Through various materials we have heard this bill will lead to a surge in gender selection. It will not. We have heard doctors will be forced to provide abortion against their own will and conscience. They will not. We have heard there will be abortion on demand up to birth. There will not be. It is a fact, however, that that particular assertion can cause harm to women who have made or who are making a difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy.
The two heartbreaking examples explored in senior Advertiser journalist Rebecca DiGirolamo's piece on Sunday highlighted the difficulty, heartbreak and devastation felt by women who have had to decide to terminate a pregnancy. While their stories differed, both women had to face difficult decisions. I would urge members to read these compelling stories from these two incredibly brave women in Rebecca's article. It is not easy to talk about such issues, and I commend them for doing so.
As I have said previously, the absolute, clear intent of this bill is to remove abortion from the criminal code. This bill has been drafted in consultation with the very medical experts that lead reproductive health care in this state, and we need to also trust their expertise and judgement. This bill is about saying to women, 'We trust you and your healthcare teams with decisions around your own reproductive health care.' It is absolutely imperative our parliament decides to instil that trust in women and in their healthcare team.
In making that decision, our parliament will be aligning with jurisdictions around the country. In making that decision, our parliament will be sending a clear message to our community that we are prepared to progress change that enables respect and trust for women and leading healthcare professionals and legal experts. In making that decision, our parliament will reflect the expectations of a modern, kind, compassionate community. I urge members to support this bill.
Dr CLOSE (Port Adelaide—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (12:48): I rise to speak in favour of this piece of legislation, but I do so with a weight of knowing how morally significant these kinds of decisions are. Not only are they a matter of conscience, which means that we each individually must make up our minds, but they are complicated and there is no easy and obvious answer to the questions that these issues pose.
In saying that, I give my respect to the people who have raised their opposition to some elements or even to all of this bill. Although there are exceptions—of extremists in our society—on the whole people who have raised concerns inside this parliament and out have done so from a position that says that they care deeply about the lives of women and the lives of children, and I can only respect coming from that place in considering how one should approach the vexed question of termination of pregnancy.
It is also complex for people who have never had a child but love them, for people who have never had a child but want them and for people who have had a child that was very much wanted and loved, but there are also people who are not so fortunate as to be in the situation of being pregnant with a child that they want and a child that they know to be healthy. We in this place do not get to live in the world that we wish were true; we get to live in the world that is and to do our best in the face of that. That requires us to approach these complex questions with a sensitivity to the reality of people's lives and also a respect for the limits to our knowledge and our capacity to make decisions in the detail of how people will live.
What do I mean by that? I do not think we can envisage every circumstance a woman finds herself in when pregnant, and I resist amendments that seek to imagine when something is okay and when it is not, in that level of detail. I think we are better off stepping back and taking a moral position that we believe in minimising harm and that we trust the medical profession and we trust that it has sufficient checks and balances to make those wise decisions alongside women, when there are detailed complexities that we cannot envisage.
I support this bill largely as is. In fact, I support it as is, but I am prepared to contemplate amendments that have been put forward that do not do any harm to this idea that we ought to be empowering women and trusting the medical profession. We need to reach a position on abortion that gives women in circumstances that many of us have not experienced, or would not wish to experience, the easiest and most comfortable approach to terminating a pregnancy that is not able to be sustained. In doing that, we need to empower the medical profession to guide women through and to make judgements on how those pregnancies can be terminated safely and with the minimum of harm.
I believe that this bill substantially does that. As I said, I think there are some amendments that can be contemplated and have been, indeed, filed, that support rather than do harm to that concept, and I am considering supporting them. What I do not support is an attempt by parliament to push its way into a level of detail that risks consequences that have not been contemplated and that will harm the women involved and cause more complexity for the doctors.
I think many of us—I certainly do not speak for everyone in this chamber, but many of us—have reached a place of being comfortable with the idea of termination in the early weeks of pregnancy under circumstances that are between a woman and her doctor and that that ought to be done in a way that does not put up barriers to access for women who may be living remotely and to women who are otherwise unable to easily have access to two doctors.
There has been a lot of concern, though, about what happens in the late stages of pregnancy. It seems to me that anyone involved in those discussions and those considerations is going through some of the most difficult moments of their life, particularly for the parents but also for the doctors, who, after all, are not in the medical profession to hurt anybody, still less a small child, a baby.
When they are in those circumstances, they are taking their best approach, they are doing their best to think wisely and considerately and sensibly, and the last thing they need is for parliament to be putting additional burdens on them that make that job harder. I have always said that the only amendments I would consider would not add additional burdens and additional complexity to what is already a difficult and complex time.
I would like to pay tribute to the advocates of this bill, the extraordinary people—largely women but also men—in the medical profession and outside, who have said to us, 'Please make this more straightforward and help us reduce the chance of harm to women going through these circumstances and also to the medical profession involved in this terribly complicated and difficult time.'
I have chosen, therefore, to have the balance of every decision I have made about this bill and about possible amendments to be on the side of those advocates. I pay tribute to the extraordinary effort they have gone to to make sure that people are informed, that there is scientific evidence before them and that there is an attempt to remove hyperbole from the discussion. What we need to be doing is concentrating on what is real, what is likely, what is possible and how we can legislate in this place to be as respectful as possible for women who are experiencing, as I say, what must be one of the most complex and difficult moments in their lives.
I pay tribute to the Attorney, who has come forward with this piece of legislation and shown courage in defending the arguments within it. I pay tribute to everyone in this chamber who has participated and will participate in a respectful way, but I will be guided by what I believe to be right. I had a conversation with a man from my electorate outside the Semaphore supermarket recently. He is opposed to this bill, but we spent most of the conversation agreeing with each other. We agree that it is a moral issue, we agree that it is a sensitive issue, but we came down on different sides in ultimately what is the wisest and kindest way to deal with this.
I would like to conclude my contribution with that word 'kindness'. There has been, with some of the opposition that has been raised, a view that there are doctors who are eager to undertake terminations that are not medically appropriate and that there are women who enter these considerations lightly. I do not believe that to be true. I believe the people in those circumstances ought to be treated with kindness by this parliament and ought to be allowed to treat each other with kindness rather than seek to navigate through overly complex legislative mazes put in place by people who do not believe that they are capable of making wise decisions themselves.
As difficult as it is for every single one of us, and particularly for those who care so very deeply about the next generations and who have had the joy of having children they love, I will be supporting this bill.
Mr KNOLL (Schubert) (12:57): I rise to make a contribution on this Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020. I indicate at the outset that I would first like to make some comments in the broad about this debate and about this issue more generally and then seek to get to the specifics of some of the bill later in my contribution.
This is a vexed topic. Because of the advent of modern science and modern medicine and of a whole series of advances that have been made, it is a question that we must grapple with in the same way that we grapple with all these life issues, whether that be around voluntary euthanasia or the like, because, as a human race, we have come much further than we could have expected even 50, 100 or 200 years ago.
There are arguments on both sides of this debate that are well worn and well understood by most, if not all, in this chamber, and I do not propose to go over those again. However, there is something fundamental about the concepts we will debate clause by clause through the committee stage of this bill. At its most fundamental, this is a debate about when life begins. Is it something that begins at conception? Is it something that only begins at birth? Or is it somewhere in between, some arbitrary line?
At its most fundamental, this is a debate that goes to the heart of the evolution of the human race. Our desire to preserve the quality and quantity of life, to use science and advance science in order to prolong life, whether that be for our elderly or for the unborn or the newborn, is something that we as a human race have strived towards since the very beginning. Indeed, that desire, that need to see the continuation of our race and of the human race, has driven us and helped us to evolve to the point where we are today. I seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.