LIBERAL National Party members are likely to vote against changes to Queensland’s abortion laws when Parliament resumes this week, with one calling the proposed Bills a “liberalisation” of current law.
The Catholic Leader asked all 89 Queensland Members of Parliament how they would be voting for the two Bills put forward by Member for Cairns Rob Pyne and if they supported a conscience vote on the issue.
Fifty-four politicians responded to the request, including Mr Pyne, with nearly half indicating they would not support changes to the current legislation.
LNP members who responded, a total of 31 or 57 per cent, said the party’s stance was to oppose any changes to Queensland’s current abortion laws.
“The LNP’s policy is that there should be no change to the current laws in place,” Member for Mudgeeraba Ros Bates said.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the LNP was waiting for a parliamentary committee report on the second Bill, the Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016.
“On the second Bill, the parliamentary committee has not yet reported back. The LNP will consider the report and it will be discussed by the party room after it is received,” Mr Nicholls said.
Seventeen MPs from Labor, LNP, the Katter Party and One Nation indicated they would not support changes to Queensland’s abortion laws, with five saying the proposed Bills clashed with their belief in the sanctity of life and the vulnerable.
Two of the MPs opposing any changes to abortion laws were female.
Only three MPs, Nikki Boyd, Don Brown and Stirling Hinchliffe, all members of the ALP, said they would be voting for both Bills, and supported a conscience vote.
Attempts to legalise 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.
Mr Pyne has made two attempts to legalise abortion in Queensland, introducing two Bills to Parliament last year.
The first would remove abortion from the Criminal Code and the second would place 50m “safe zones” outside abortion clinics and gestation limits.
The bill would also clarify the definition of abortion as “causing a woman’s miscarriage” by administering a drug, using an instrument, or “any other means”.
A parliamentary report released on August 27 rejected the first Bill, but Mr Pyne proposed the second 10 days before the report was due.
The two Bills will be debated as early as this week after Mr Pyne put forward a procedure motion to have them discussed in parliament together.
Mr Pyne told The Catholic Leader the use of “late-term abortion” instead of gestational periods in previous reports about his two Bills were wrong.
“Can you guys stop telling lies regarding late-term abortions?” Mr Pyne said.
“It is encouraging the lunatic fringe.
“Please refer to the gestation periods, etcetera, written down in the legislation when making commentary.”
Protection for the unborn top priority
A spokeswoman for Shane Knuth, Member for Dalrymple, said he was “immoveable” in his stance on abortion and would not support changes to the current legislation.
“He believes that an unborn child must be protected throughout the gestation,” the spokeswoman said.
Member for Pumicestone Rick Williams, who is part of the Christian MPs group, said he was “unwavering” in his views on abortion.
“I will not support the two Bills,” he said.
“I think this Bill is a bad idea.”
Member for Moggill Dr Christian Rowan said he would also oppose the bills and was against the idea of a conscience vote because the Bills were “fundamentally flawed”.
“It is my view that both Bills should be rejected in their entirety,” Dr Rowan said.
“This Bill is so fundamentally flawed that you don’t divorce the lack of substance with the Bill.”
Member for Cleveland Dr Mark Robinson said he could not support a conscience vote as the normal provisions were “overridden when both LNP and Labor committed to ‘No change’ to Queensland’s abortion laws in this Parliamentary period”.
Dr Robinson called Mr Pyne’s two Bills “the most dangerous abortion laws in the Western world”.
“On the weight of science and public opinion, and as a pro-life MP, I believe women and their babies deserve better than abortion. They need informed choice, independent counselling, cooling off periods and support services so that they know all of their options and consequences to themselves and their babies, have real choices and make their own decision,” he said.
“These Bills remove all current protections for mums and babies.”
One Nation member Steve Dickson said he was awaiting the report of the parliamentary committee on the second Bill but was “absolutely opposed” to the first.
As a Christian, Mr Dickson cited his religious beliefs as the reason for opposing changes to abortion laws.
“I believe in Jesus and try to do my best in this life,” he said.
“I have a God and talk to him all the time.”
Member for Maroochydore Fiona Simpson said she would not be supporting the Bills because they would leave women, babies and health workers vulnerable.
Laws on moral issues not Parliament’s responsibility
Mr Hinchliffe, Member for Sandgate, said the issue of abortion was a “complex matter of a deeply personal and moral nature” but not for Parliament to regulate.
“I have consistently maintained it should not be the role of the Parliament to legislate moral positions that are not broadly held across the community, and therefore would support law reform in this area,” he said.
The two Bills are tipped to be debated in the early weeks of parliamentary sitting, which resumes on February 14.
FULL LIST OF RESPONDENTS
Members who will not support the bills:
Stephen Bennett, Member for Burnett
Jarrod Bleijie, Member for Kawana
Mark Boothman, Member for Albert
Robbie Katter, Member for Mount Isa
Shane Knuth, Member for Dalrymple
Jonathan Krause, Member for Beaudesert
Timoth Mander, Member for Everton
Anthony Perrett, Member for Gympie
Andrew Powell, Member for Glass House
Dr Mark Robinson, Member for Cleveland
Dr Christian Rowan, Member for Moggill
Fiona Simpson, Member for Maroochydore
Tarnya Smith, Member for Mount Ommaney
Lawrence Springborg, Member for Southern Downs
Ian Walker, Member for Mansfield
Trevor Watts, Member for Toowoomba North
Richard Williams, Member for Pumicestone
Members who will support the two Bills:
Nikki Boyd, Member for Pine Rivers
Don Brown, Member for Capalaba
Stirling Hinchliffe, Member for Sandgate
Rob Pyne, Member for Cairns
Members who indicated no support of the first Bill but waiting for report on second:
Verity Barton, Member for Broadwater
Di Farmer, Member for Bulimba
Steve Dickson, Member for Buderim
Matt McEachan, Member for Redlands
Lachlan Millar, Member for Gregory
Patrick Weir, Member for Condamine
Members who didn’t respond:
Mark Bailey, Member for Yeerongpilly
Glenn Butcher, Member for Gladstone
Bill Byrne, Member for Rockhampton
Jason Costigan, Member for Whitsunday
Craig Crawford, Member for Barron River
Andrew Cripps, Member for Hinchinbrooke
Yvette D’Ath, Member for Redcliffe
Michael de Brenni, Member for Springwood
Cameron Dick, Member for Woodridge
Anthony Emerson, Member for Indooroopilly
Shannon Fentiman, Member for Waterford
William Gordon, Member for Cook
Grace Grace, Member for Brisbane Central
Aaron Harper, Member for Thuringowa
Jennifer Howard, Member for Ipswich
Kate Jones, Member for Ashgrove
Dale Last, Member for Burdekin
Brittany Lauga, Member for Keppel
Mark McArdle, Member for Caloudra
Steven Miles, Member for Mount Coot-tha
Jo-Ann Miller, Member for Bundamba
Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk, Member for Inala
James Pearce, Member for Mirani
Joan Pease, Member for Lytton
Curtis Pitt, Member for Mulgrave
Ian Rickuss, Member for Lockyer
Peter Russo, Member for Sunnybank
Mark Saunders, Member for Maryborough
Jeffrey Seeney, Member for Callide
Ted Sorensen, Member for Hervey Bay
Raymond Stevens, Member for Mermaid Beach
Janet Stuckey, Member for Currumbin
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Member for South Brisbane
Peter Wellington, Member for Nicklin
Chris Whiting, Member for Murrumba
The remaining 23 Members of Parliament who responded indicated they are waiting to hear the committee’s report and recommendations before discussing with the party room.