QUEENSLAND Parliamentary members have indicated whether they will support a proposed bill to make abortion legal in the state with a majority of respondents preparing to vote against it.
The Catholic Leader asked all 88 Queensland Members of Parliament if they supported Member for Cairns Rob Pyne’s proposed abortion bill and if there should be gestational restrictions.
Fifty-seven politicians including Mr Pyne responded to the questions, with 42 per cent or 24 MPs indicating they would not support the bill in its current wording.
Just over half of the respondents said they would cast a conscience vote after the bill is debated in Parliament, while three pledged a vote in support of changes to decriminalise abortion in Queensland.
Abortion in Queensland is illegal under the Criminal Code unless it is performed in good faith and reasonable care for the patient’s benefit or to preserve the mother’s life.
Member for Cleveland Dr Mark Robinson said the “disgraceful” bill would remove all protection under the current law to “viable babies, mothers, fathers, families, health professionals” among others.
Dr Robinson requested a Question on Notice to Health Minister Cameron Dick on figures related to live-birth abortions in Queensland, totalling 27 in 2015.
He said the proposed bill would increase the death toll of healthy babies since it would make late-term and full-term abortions possible.
“No, I will ‘not’ be voting for Mr Pyne’s disgraceful bill in any shape or form (including its current wording) as in a mere forty-nine irresponsible words it would create here in Queensland the most dangerous abortion law in the Western world,” Dr Robinson said.
“The Pyne Bill needs to be thrown back to hell where it came from.”
Pro-life supporter Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said Mr Pyne’s bill would legalise “the killing of unborn children up until the point of birth”.
“This is too horrific for words and I will strongly oppose it,” Ms Simpson said.
On gestational restrictions, Ms Simpson said she supported the current law which offered doctors “room to move” if a circumstance required medical care for the mother, but admitted it was not a perfect solution.
“This is why I support the legal status quo – while not perfect, it does provide more protections for women and children than this bill,” she said.
Burdekin member Dale Last said he would not support Mr Pyne’s bill but said in certain circumstances abortion at a certain stage should be restricted “where there is clear and irrefutable medical evidence indicating severe abnormalities or the life of the mother or baby is in jeopardy”.
Mr Pyne said he did not believe in making a restriction on abortions up to a certain gestational period for the mother’s safety.
“Sometimes the foetus passes and the woman is forced to carry the child full term and it’s a traumatic experience for those in those circumstances,” he said.
“Often in those cases, after the foetus has passed, there can be complications for the woman including septic shock.”
Pro-choice MPs Brittany Lauga and Shannon Fentiman said they supported the decriminalisation of abortion.
Mrs Lauga said she did not take abortion lightly.
“I respect that this is a passionate issue for many people, but I’d like it to remain a respectful debate over the coming months,” she said.
Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt said his personal view would be not to abort his and his wife’s unborn child “unless there was a significant danger to my wife”.
In 2008 Mr Pitt and his wife’s daughter Isabel was stillborn at 41 weeks.
“This tragedy has reminded us about how precious every life is and how much risk there can be during pregnancy even in this day and age,” he said.
“However, this does not mean that I do not support the rights of an individual to make their own choice on what is a very personal, complex and significant issue.”
Mr Pitt said his role as deciding and voting on a matter for the good of the community did not mean he would oppose legislation.
“I do not believe that it is my place to impose my personal views on others who should be free to make a choice for themselves,” he said.
Member for Broadwater Verity Barton and Member for Ipswich West James Madden said their commitment to the Catholic faith would dictate their vote on the bill.
“As a practising Catholic I believe in the sanctity of life; I personally don’t believe there is any need to change abortion law in Queensland and will not be supporting Mr Pyne’s bill,” Ms Barton said.
Member for Southern Downs Lawrence Springborg said he would not vote for a change to Queensland’s abortion laws.
“I believe that they maintain what is a very difficult balance between the health and welfare of the mother and the rights of the unborn and should not be tampered with under any circumstances whatsoever,” Mr Springborg said.
The bill has been deferred to the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee which will report to Parliament on August 26.
Member for Nudgee Leanne Linard is chair of the committee alongside Member for Caloundra Mark McArdle, Member for Mt Ommaney Tarnya Smith, Member for Gaven Sid Cramp, Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper and Member for Greenslopes Joe Kelly.
Four of the six committee members responded to questions on the proposed bill, but only Mrs Smith indicated she would not be supporting it.
Ms Linard, Mr Harper and Mr Kelly said they wanted to avoid any perceptions of bias before the committee made their report to Parliament.
Members who will not support the Bill:
Verity Barton, Broadwater
Jarrod Bleijie, Kawana
Andrew Cripps, Hitchinbrook
Di Farmer, Bulimba
Deb Frecklington, Nanango
Mark Furner, Ferny Grove
Julieanne Gilbert, Mackay
Jonathan Krause, Beaudesert
Dale Last, Burdekin
Ann Maree Leahy, Warrego
Tim Mander, Everton
Matthew McEachan, Redlands
Lachlan Millar, Gregory
Tim Nicholls, Clayfield
James Pearce, Mirani
Anthony Perrett, Gympie
Andrew Powell, Glass House
Dr Mark Robinson, Cleveland
Dr Christian Rowan, Moggill
Fiona Simpson, Maroochydore
Tarnya Smith, Mount Ommaney
Lawrence Springborg, Southern Downs
Jann Stuckey, Currumbin
Ian Walker, Mansfield
Members who will support the Bill:
Rob Pyne, Cairns
Don Brown, Capalaba
UPDATE: The Catholic Leader originally indicated Brittany Lauga, Member for Keppel, as a supporter of Rob Pyne’s bill for stating she was pro-choice. Mrs Lauga has since contacted The Catholic Leader to clarify that her pro-choice stance does not equate to supporting the bill in its current form.
Those who didn’t respond:
Mark Bailey, Yeerongpilly
Ros Bates, Mudgereeba
Mark Boothman, Albert
Bill Byrne, Rockhampton
Jason Costigan, Whitsunday
Sid Cramp, Gaven
Michael Crandon, Coomera
Craig Crawford, Barron River
Yvette D’Ath, Redcliffe
Tracy Davis, Aspley
Steve Dickson, Buderim
Jennifer Howard, Ipswich
Kate Jones, Ashgrove
Robbie Katter, Mount Isa
Shane Knuth, Dalrymple
John-Paul Langbroek, Surfers Paradise
Dr Anthony Lynham, Stafford
Dr Steven Miles, Mount Coot-tha
Jo-Ann Miller, Bundamba
Steve Minnikin, Chatsworth
Rob Molhoek, Southport
Coralee O’Rourke, Mundingburra
Linus Power, Logan
Ian Rickuss, Lockyer
Peter Russo, Sunnybank
Bruce Saunders, Maryborough
Jeff Seeney, Callide
Ray Stevens, Mermaid Beach
Trevor Watts, Toowoomba North
Patrick Weir, Condamine
Peter Wellington, Nicklin
*The remaining MPs surveyed indicated a neutral or conscience vote
By Emilie Ng