BILL: Termination of Pregnancy

Today Mark spoke in support of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020.


The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: This bill is an important and long overdue reform, and I fully support it. I know that some of my colleagues in other parties are grappling with how they should exercise the rare opportunity to have a conscience vote, but this is not an issue for the Greens. Technically, we have a conscience vote on every issue. However, we also have a longstanding policy that providing access to affordable sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception, is part of every woman's right to control her own body.

I will be voting for the bill, not just because it is consistent with Greens policy, but because, according to my conscience, it is also the right thing to do. The Greens went to the last federal election with a policy to support decriminalisation of abortion under state law in New South Wales and Queensland and the removal of criminal provisions in South Australia and Western Australia, where they still exist. We know they still exist, and this bill removes them.

According to the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, one-quarter to one-third of all Australian women will have an abortion at some point in their life. You only have to do the sums: all of us know more than three or four women. There is a large number of women in my life, women whom I know, who have had terminations, and not one of them has fulfilled the stereotype that we hear in some of the items of correspondence, that they would wake up in the morning and just think, 'What will I do today? I know, I will go and have an abortion.'

In every one of the cases that I am familiar with, women who are friends and acquaintances of mine, all of them have gone into this with a great deal of soul-searching and often a great deal of pain, and the last thing they want to hear is that it is somehow a flippant, ill-conceived and ill-considered choice that they have made. The Greens agree, also, with the Public Health Association of Australia, which states in its abortion policy:

Abortion should be regulated in the same way as other health procedures, without additional barriers or conditions. Regulation of abortion should be removed from Australian criminal law.

It is a pretty simple position, that abortion is part of health care. Health care should be regulated in a health framework, and abortion has no right to be in the criminal law.

I also have received a large number of items of correspondence from all sides of this debate. It often surprises and disappoints me, when I read some of this correspondence, that people are not necessarily consistent in their views of life. We only have to look at, say, the American election we have just had, and there are many parallels in Australian politics as well. I struggle with the idea that someone can consistently and simultaneously be completely opposed to abortion in all circumstances but think that executing people in gaols—often young people, youth—is a reasonable response to whatever indiscretions they might have committed. I think it is a bizarre way to view the world.

I do not doubt for one minute the sincerity of those who are occupied in trying to prevent the rights of others. I understand that it is a strong religious view that many people hold, but at the end of the day my view, and certainly the view of my party, is that this is a matter for a woman and her healthcare providers to deal with. It is a matter that should be regulated in the healthcare system, it is not something that needs to be in the criminal law.

Along with the Hon. Ian Hunter, I would like to put on the record my thanks and congratulations to the people who have gone before in this debate, those who have actively advocated for the removal of abortion from the criminal code, not the least of whom my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks, but also many of the other, sadly, mostly women, in state parliament on whose shoulders this task has fallen.

I am very pleased that we have now come to the pointy end of this and I am looking forward to the passage of the bill today. As I have said, my personal view and the view of the Greens is that legislation like this should be supported.