The Lower House of the Parliament of Tasmania has passed an abortion Bill that is even more extreme than that in Victoria (I didn’t think that was even possible!) with 13 voting in favour and 11 opposed.
All of the ten Liberals opposed the Bill, all of the five Greens supported it and all but one (of 10) ALP members supported it - Michael Polley courageously crossed the floor to vote against it.
There were great moments throughout the debate. Will Hodgman (Leader of the Opposition) spoke strongly about how he could not ignore the unborn child. Jacquie Petrusma (Liberal Party) talked about her own struggles and triumphs during challenging years of young and older motherhood, about the research showing negative psychological and physical risks of abortion and about the development of life in the womb. Mark Shelton (Liberal party) spoke of his adoration for his grandson, Evan, with Down Syndrome and the relief that his daughter had chosen life for him. Michael Ferguson (Liberal), amongst other things talked about the tactics used by supporters of the Bill and the misleading nature of the Bill. He also critiqued the Bill for the lack of due process and public consultation, a complaint made by many.
There were some speakers in support of the Bill that were just so hard to listen to - their misinformation so passionately repeated again and again. Numerous times they referred to difficult circumstances that drive women to abort (but no mention of addressing those social and economic needs – only abortion!), and the “empowerment of women gaining autonomy over their reproductive choices”....by aborting their babies??!! Among the supporters of the Bill, there was almost no mention of the baby, for whom abortion is fatal. If you can bear to watch those parts of the debate, the footage will be available on our website shortly.
The Institute of Public Affairs has weighed in on the debate, saying that ""Proposed changes contained in the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013 threaten freedom of speech and freedom of conscience". They also stated that "Singling out particular premises for special treatment undermines equality before the law. This bill does not make it illegal to distribute material outside supermarkets or sports grounds, for instance. The Tasmanian government should not ban protests, whether they occur outside an abortion clinic or a timber mill".
Please act - The Bill also needs to be passed by the Upper House of Tasmania. Please contact the members of the Upper House and respectfully ask them not to support the Bill, and your reasons why.
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Please also shoot off a quick email to those who stood for life in Tasmanian Parliament on Tuesday night and thank them for voting against the Bill.
More information to come.