It is with great sadness that I report to you that the SA Lower House passed the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 last Friday 18 February.
Please forgive the long text that is to follow, but I feel it's important to report to you in some detail how your MPs voted on this crucial bill.
This bill will permit abortion to birth. That is why I have great sadness of heart. I have joy, however, because there were incremental but significant amendments passed. And that, by God’s grace, was because of the hard work that you and others did over the past two years.
Thank you for lobbying your MPs so well, and for so long. One MP told me that nearly all MPs received hundreds of letters against the bill, and only 20-50 for the bill. And that was just the letters… there were many phone calls as well.
Special thanks also to Jodi Pickard and her team at Love Adelaide for organising the hugely successful Walk for Life.
Below is a video by Love Adelaide of the rally on Parliament steps while the debate was taking place.
Significant amendments were made to:
- outlaw sex selection abortion,
- ensure a duty of care to any babies born alive after an attempted abortion,
- incorporate detailed guidelines as to matters to be considered by doctors in assessing if late term abortions should occur (this is a unique section in Australian abortion legislation),
- require provision of information about counselling, and
- make changes to the conscientious objection provisions.
Special thanks should go to Stephen Mullighan, the Labor member for Lee, who conceived and moved the unique guidelines amendment which will hopefully cause doctors to interpret the Attorney's broad criteria for abortion to birth in a conservative manner
He was supported by Minister David Speirs and others and was opposed strongly by the trifecta of Attorney-General Chapman, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition Susan Close, and the member for Hurtle Vale Nat Cook.
The vote tied 23-23 and the chairman, Peter Treloar, used his casting vote to support the amendment. A point on the siren is still a win!
The sad reality is that the Attorney General sponsored the bill and argued for it. The Premier supported her. Despite many calls and letters by you all, Liberal MPs Paula Luethen, the member for King, Rachel Sanderson, the member for Adelaide, and Richard Harvey, the member for Newland, all voted for abortion to birth.
Thank you to Minister David Speirs for championing the amendment to restrict late term abortion and Liberals Stefan Knoll the member for Schubert, and Steve Murray the member for Davenport, who supported him and moved many key amendments.
On the Labor side, Tom Koutsantonis the Member for West Torrens, Stephen Mullighan, Michael Brown the member for Playford, and Andrea Michaels the member for Enfield, moved many useful amendments and spoke strongly for the unborn.
The many meetings throughout the state have yielded real fruit in that Geoff Brock the member for Frome, Dan Van Holst Pellekaan the member for Stuart, and Troy Bell the member for Mount Gambier, all voted for the amendment promoted by Minister David Spiers which would have restricted the abortion to birth provision in this bill.
Thanks to two courageous women, Carolyn Power the Liberal member for Elder, and Andrea Michaels the Labor member for Enfield, who consistently voted for life in the face of great pressure. Andrea was the only woman who voted against the bill in the final third reading vote. Thanks also to Matt Cowdrey who supported the Spiers' amendments.
While Carolyn Power and Matt Cowdrey voted for the bill in the third reading vote, by then the bill was already going to pass. Critically, they supported the Spiers' amendments when they could have been passed. They should be congratulated for that. In AFL terms, when the game was in the balance in the second and third quarters, they dug deep and put in the hard yards.
We are also thrilled that the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Malinauskas, opposed abortion to birth. Please ring or email him to thank him. And I urge you contact your local MP to either thank them, or share your disappointment, for the way they voted.
Thank you again for your hard work over the past two years. It has been an honour to partner with you in this campaign.
The bill goes back to the Upper House on 2 March and is likely to pass unamended.
While we are disappointed about the bill passing into law, we must recognise the significant difference the amendments will make to many unborn children. One supporter shared these powerful words...
Many will read the list as simply a list of amendments, they are. But they also represent...
Individual lives that may never have been born had you not given them a voice,
Parents who would have never had the privilege to know their children,
Generations that would have been cut off from the land of the living.
May you be strengthened and encouraged to continue in the work you are doing. May others see your example and put their hands to the plough... Thank you so much for making a stand, and against the tide, declaring truth in the public squares.
Let me encourage you, after a break, to gird your loins and set your face like flint for the battles ahead. We must work hard toward the next election, and support those who voted for life, and hold all those who voted for abortion to birth accountable.
Speaking about Jesus, Isaiah 42:4 says:
“He will not grow faint or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth.”
And Isaiah 53:11 says:
“He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.”
You and I are also in the midst of a travail. In Jesus’ strength, we must keep going. Without travail there is no fruit. So, I pray that you will be strengthened to continue to pray and take action on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.