BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge has questioned the integrity of the “so-called ‘conscience’ vote” when the Queensland Parliament voted to decriminalise abortion in a late-night extended session.
The bill, which passed Queensland Parliament by 50 votes to 41 on October 17, allows for abortions up to 22 weeks, and beyond 22 weeks with the approval of a second doctor.
These late-term abortions can now be undertaken for psychosocial reasons.
All MPs were given a conscience vote.
Archbishop Coleridge said the archdiocese reached out to tens of thousands of people to ask for their thoughts on this abortion legislation.
“We had more than 25,000 replies and 98 per cent of those were critical of the legislation, particularly around the ability to terminate babies until birth for social or psychological reasons,” he said.
“The strongest replies we received were from Labor electorates.
“The Premier’s electorate was the most vocal by a considerable margin.
“On social media, I noted that this conscience vote was tied to political expediency and personal opportunism, and that doesn’t help when you’re dealing with a matter of life and death.
“This was a so-called ‘conscience’ vote, yet only one Government MP voted against the bill.
“That seems remarkable to me when we’re debating laws that allow termination until birth for social reasons.
“Strangely, only one Government MP was uncomfortable with that; others – some of them Catholic – seemed untroubled.
“Seriously unedifying were the cheering and rejoicing in the chamber when the vote was decided.
“It seemed to me like dancing on the graves of unborn children who will rise up in judgement when the time comes.”
The bill specifies that doctors who are conscientious objectors must refer women to a medical practitioner who would perform an abortion.
The bill also created “safe access zones” of 150 metres around abortion clinics, which opened a new avenue of free-speech problems – particularly those about praying around the clinics.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was an “historic day” for Queensland.
“The Palaszczuk Government is proud to deliver on our election commitment to modernise and clarify the laws around termination of pregnancy,” she said.
Medical Guild of St Luke president Dr Terrence Kent disagreed.
Dr Kent called it a “horrible bill, a horrible law, a total disregard for innocent human life”.
“I don’t understand how Catholic politicians can disregard human life,” he said.
Other MPs held personal conscientious objections.
LNP Member for Hervey Bay Ted Sorensen revealed he was a “survivor” of an unwanted pregnancy during the bill’s second reading.
“If this law were present in those days, I would not be alive to speak on behalf of all of the babies who have the right to live – and I believe that I had the right to live,” Mr Sorensen said.
“I still believe that.
“I do not believe that some minister opposite can bring a bill to this house that says, ‘Terminate that pregnancy’.
“I feel that this bill we are debating today should be called ‘killing Ted bill’.
“That is the way I feel.”
Member for Bundamba Jo-Ann Miller was the only Labor MP to vote against the bill.
LNP Member for Clayfield Tim Nicholls, LNP Member for Currumbin Jann Stuckey and LNP Member for Chatsworth Steve Minnikin voted with Labor MPs to ensure the bill’s passage.
Katter Australian Party MPs and One Nation’s Stephen Andrew voted against the bill.
The bill passed its second reading 50 votes to 41, with one member absent from the chamber, before amendments were offered.
LNP MP Mark McArdle moved for a number of amendments such as lowering the gestational limit to 16 weeks from 22 weeks, and on requiring two doctors to consult in person, and mandated counselling for women.
Mr McArdle’s amendments were all defeated.
Another amendment to remove a conscientious objector’s obligation to refer a woman on to a doctor willing to do the abortion also failed.
Cherish Life Queensland condemned the Palaszczuk Government for the passage of the bill.
“… Fifty members of Queensland Parliament voted for state-sanctioned killing of unborn babies until birth,” a statement said.
“These MPs abdicated their responsibility to the most vulnerable in Queensland – the unborn and women.
“It’s a sad day when politicians go from kissing babies to voting for their destruction.
“These MPs should be ashamed for bringing in one of the most extreme abortion laws in the world.
“This has strengthened Cherish Life’s resolve to remove pro-abortion MPs at the next state election.”