So when we are looking at changing the blunt instrument of legislation, we are actually intruding, I believe, upon a very sensitive, personal medical decision. I have always said this is a very important decision to be taken by a woman, her medical practitioner and any other person she chooses to engage in that discussion.
This is a bill that goes to the heart of the woman's right to choose. That is what this bill is about.
I could find no evidence to suggest that the termination of pregnancies in Australia for sex selection purposes is actually occurring.
I certainly do not support gender-selection abortion but do oppose this bill because I think it represents the thin edge of the wedge… I am a passionate advocate of women’s rights. I have always been for as long as I can remember. I believe it is a woman’s right to choose and have been a passionate advocate of that position for a very, very long time.
“I agree… that gender selection is discriminatory and greatly prejudicial to women and female children in society, but I cannot agree with the measures proposed in this bill.”
Any decision to terminate a pregnancy is ultimately a decision for a woman, on the advice of her clinician and on the advice from whomever she wishes to seek advice from. It is a fundamental right of a woman to be able to terminate a pregnancy. It is her decision… This is not a decision for government; it is not a decision for the parliament. This is a decision for a woman alone.
This bill, I believe, is an attempt to erode the right of women to make choices about their own bodies and to reignite a debate about abortion… I believe that women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies and I believe that access to safe and legal abortion is a fundamental aspect of this right.
The choice to terminate a child on the basis of gender is perhaps the most selfish decision that anyone could take. It is saying, 'I do not think a girl is worth the same as a boy.' When has this country thought that was going to be okay?
I said in my maiden speech that on issues like this, that were matters of life and death, I would always vote to support life. I support life. I support Senator Madigan's bill as a small step in the right direction, and I will consistently support the preservation of human life against all challengers.
To suggest that a pregnancy should be terminated simply because of the sex of the child – because the parents wanted a child of the other sex – is just repugnant and repulsive. As Senator Ruston said, it is almost a shame that we should have to debate this bill.
I do not think there would be anybody in this parliament – and overwhelmingly in the Australian population – who would accept, concur with or agree with the notion of termination of pregnancy based solely on the selection of gender of the offspring.
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