“Many people will read yesterday’s report of the Legislative Council Committee A on the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013 with heavy hearts,” FamilyVoice Tasmania state officer Jim Collins said today.
“The report’s overwhelming message is that abortion is just another ‘medical procedure’. But as every mother knows, the baby growing inside her womb is a separate, living and moving human being. ‘Terminating’ an unborn child can never be the same as removing a diseased appendix. That is why pro-life doctors and counsellors, who believe human life is precious, cannot in good conscience ‘refer’, or in any way be party to, the deliberate destruction of a healthy child in the womb.
“The report notes that the bill’s penalties are too high for pro-life counsellors who fail to refer pregnant women seeking advice to another counsellor who is pro-choice,” Jim Collins said. “But the report does not suggest what the penalty should be. We submit that there should be no penalty for anyone with a conscientious belief in the need to preserve human life – a belief that once distinguished our culture as civilised and humane.”
Jim Collins said the report affirms the bill’s draconian penalties of a huge fine and/ or a jail term for those who protest in any way within 150 metres of an abortion facility – even though there is no evidence that Tasmanian women have been harassed near such places. “How is it that environmental protestors can disrupt logging work or dams with relative impunity, but under this bill no one can even pray silently for mothers and their unborn babies near an abortion clinic?” he asked. “Police already have power to deal with harassment. This clause should be deleted.”
Bill not genuinely needed
Jim Collins said there is no evidence for any genuine need for the 2013 abortion bill. “To our state’s shame, abortion is already legal for the whole nine months of pregnancy,” he said. “A big difference with the new legislation is that women seeking abortion are not required to have counselling beforehand. Where a human life is at stake, and with mounting evidence of physical and mental health risks linked with the procedure, surely counselling about these risks is the least we can require.”
Mr Collins said that Legislative Council debate on the bill is expected next week. “A few days is far too short a time to consider the report’s 108 pages and draft carefully worded amendments,” he said. “We urge the Council to either reject the bill outright, or at the very least, delay debate in order to ensure that its most serious affronts to natural justice are removed.”
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