LABOR has introduced laws aimed at legalising abortion into the Queensland parliament today (August 22), despite latest polling that shows majority opposition among voters.
If passed, the laws, would allow women to have an abortion up to 22 weeks, or up until birth if approved by two doctors.
Also, “exclusion zones” of 150 metres would be in place around abortion clinics.
The legislation contains no safeguards against sex-selective abortions and no safeguards for women considering an abortion such as independent counselling, informed consent conditions or a cooling-off period.
Introducing the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, attorney general Yvette D’Ath called for “calm and consideration” as the matter heads towards debate in parliament.
“There will be strongly held views and robust discussion. I acknowledge that for many, personal values and principles are at the very heart of the issue,” she said.
“But we must as elected representatives of the Queensland community do all we can to ensure the rhetoric and the debate of this bill remains calm, civilised and considerate of all views.”
Shortly before the tabling of the bill, Health Minister Steven Miles announced the launch of an online fact checker on the Queensland Health site.
Mr Miles claimed there had been some extreme claims publicised around abortion, particularly from those opposing the government’s legislation.
“Unfortunately, many anti-abortion voices are using lies to justify their position. An online fact checker, using real medical professionals, is now open to debunk abortion myths,” he tweeted.
Unfortunately, many anti-abortion voices are using lies to justify their position. An online fact checker, using real medical professionals, is now open to debunk abortion myths: https://t.co/ADCF7kgy5R
— Steven Miles (@StevenJMiles) August 22, 2018
Women who oppose abortion speaking up for the rights of the unborn
As Ms D’Ath tabled the Termination of Pregnancy Bill this morning, pro-life women who oppose the laws explained why they were prepared to stand on the frontline in defence of their beliefs.
“I just think every life is precious,” Rachel Allgrove said.
“It’s murderous and they (babies) deserve better.”
Rachel and her sister Rebekah travelled from the Sunshine Coast to join a pro-life demonstration outside Brisbane’s parliament building on the eve of the bill being introduced.
For both, adding their voice is important, even if it means standing in the bitter morning cold as MPs arrive for work.
“It’s an extremely important bill being discussed so we just wanted to show our support,” Rachel said.
“From a human rights perspective I think it is pretty shocking they are trying to get full term abortion in, and cutting down freedom of conscience for doctors.”
Brisbane woman Aimee Walmsley is equally committed, but never imagined standing on the frontline – until now.
“I never would have seen myself as the kind of person to hold a sign or protest,” she said.
“I normally just agree or disagree at home but when it comes to abortion it’s just too important to stay at home.
“Sometimes it takes people to stand up with a sign or a banner to get people to take a second thought about something.”
As cars and buses roared down Alice Street and on to the Pacific motorway, there were horn blasts of support for the women as they held vigil outside the parliamentary annex.
“We ask and implore the hearts and minds of each well-intended thinking, MP (Member of Parliament) to please stand with us, for women and for our community against this heinous attempt at reform,” Abortion Rethink convenor Catherine Toomey said as public servants and press secretaries walk briskly past with mobile phones held to their ears, avoiding eye contact with the women and their banners as they enter the parliamentary annex.
It’s not that these women are doing anything controversial.
They are standing up, and speaking out, for the rights of unborn children, who have no voice.
Katter’s Australian Party members, Rob Katter and Shane Knuth, joined the demonstrators to offer their support in opposing the abortion bill.
“My office has had a flood of support against the bill,” Mr Katter said.
Poll shows Queenslanders don’t want abortion reform
The latest YouGov Galaxy independent research poll, commissioned by Cherish Life Queensland and the Australian Family Association, showed that 62 per cent of Queenslanders agreed that an unborn at 23 weeks is a person with rights.
And 75 per cent agreed that abortion harms women’s health.
The poll was a representative sample of 1000 Queensland voters a total of 21 questions around the issue of abortion.
In general terms, 52 per cent oppose abortion for any reason until 22 weeks, while opposition rises to 62 per cent for abortion past 22 weeks for social reasons.
About 38 per cent said the current law was “about right” and 18 per cent said the current law was not restrictive enough.
“I think it’s important that people get out and show their MPs that abortion is not okay – this proposed legislation is not okay,” Ms Walmsley said.
“It’s too important to let slip by. We’re talking about killing babies right up to full term and since when has that been okay?
“That’s not okay and I am sure it is not okay with so many people out there. It’s time for them to go and visit their MPs.”
Labor MPs will be allowed a conscience vote on the emotive issue, while the Liberal National Party opposition says it will closely examine the bill before deciding whether its MPs will be free to vote with their conscience.
The bill is expected to be debated and voted on by the end of the year.
An annual March for Life in Brisbane on September 1, organised by Cherish Life Queensland, is expected to draw a large crowd opposed to the abortion laws.
In Cairns, a Rally for Life is planned for September 8.