Wednesday, 14 February 2018
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) every human being, no matter what stage of development, is sacred and is deserving of the rights to life and liberty, and
(ii) mothers should be informed about the development of the unborn baby, the procedure of termination, the risks, both physical and psychological, due to the operation and alternatives such as adoption; and
(b) calls on the Australian Government to fund counselling for women in relation to pregnancy terminations.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
Abortion is a confronting and divisive topic charged with emotion. However, despite what might be suggested, abortion is not liberation; it is the abandonment of women at their most vulnerable. Human life is sacred, born or unborn. No matter at what stage of development, they have an inherent right to life and liberty. Unfortunately, the reality today is that that isn't the case. We have seen outrage over the destruction of kangaroos, yet where is the same compassion when it comes to an unborn human? We have seen decisions to terminate a life based solely on a woman's socioeconomic situation. I am proud to be from a state that values life. I recognise the complexities of the issue and, as such, call on my colleagues to support the provision of fully funded counselling services without discrimination of circumstances.
The opposition does not believe that complex matters such as the one being raised in this motion should be dealt with in formal business. The purpose of formal business is, by its nature, to fast-track consideration of matters that don't require discussion. I think if we reflect on today's session, as other senators have, it's an example to that point. I rise not to make a partisan point but to note that this is a sensitive matter and one that evokes a wide range of views from all senators in this place. Asking the Senate to vote for a simple motion on this topic does not afford senators the opportunity to outline their individual positions adequately, nor the time frame to address them. I foreshadow that if motions on this issue or similar issues are to become a more regular matter in formal business, then it is likely that some senators will choose not to vote on such motions.
As this motion involves a matter of conscience, Liberal and National Party senators will be voting in accordance with their own conscience. I should also indicate that the government currently provides access to pregnancy support counselling services.
The Greens won't be supporting Senator Anning's motion today, primarily because it is unnecessary—the federal government already funds pregnancy termination counselling services and online resources, which include information on termination options. It is clear from the wording of this motion that it attempts to present an anti-abortion position that denies women's reproductive rights without actually stating that. But Senator Anning's statement today made it very clear where he stands. It is appalling. All women deserve the right to choose and to control their own reproductive rights, including in Tasmania and other parts where surgical abortions are now not possible. No matter where a women lives in this country, she deserves the right to control her own life.