Mark McArdle says he cannot support the Bill without amendments. File picture
Mark McArdle says he cannot support the Bill without amendments. File picture

Abortion debate: LNP MP’s support to be crucial

DEPUTY Premier Jackie Trad has launched a stinging rebuke against those who have opposed the decriminalisation of abortion.

Speaking in favour of the Bill before State Parliament, Ms Trad said she believed "we would never be having this conversation" if men were capable of bearing children.

"The right of women to control their own reproduction, their own bodies is such an important part of equality in our society," she said.

"The comments made by some in this chamber, and particularly the Member for Everton (Tim Mander) only serve to continue the shaming and stigmatisation of women and young girls.

"To prioritise the rights of a fetus above that of a woman is something that I find offensive.

"Because the logical conclusion to that argument is that a woman should be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy.

"In this day and age, I think that is something that doesn't belong in our society."

NICHOLLS TO SUPPORT THE BILL

FORMER opposition leader Tim Nicholls has revealed he too will use his conscience vote to back the abortion decriminalisation bill.

The Member for Clayfield is the second Liberal National MP to reveal they will back the laws, with Opposition frontbencher Steve Minnikin to also back the changes.

He told the House there was strong support in his electorate for the changes.

Mr Nicholls was emotional as he revealed his position.

"I do not support abortion," Mr Nicholls told the House.

"I wish that no women felt the need to seek a termination.

"I wish all of us could enjoy the enormous experience of a full challenging and rewarding family life.

"But I recognise reality.

"Our termination laws need to reflect that reality. They must be careful and understanding and importantly must not penalise either women or men and that which is beyond our best efforts or which is simply human nature.

"The current law does not do that.

"I believe the proposed laws will.

"Women are entitled to control their own reproductive health issues free from worry and stress from an outdated and restrictive law and in full knowledge that their health and wellbeing is in their hands.

"I will support this Bill."

PREMIER TAKES HER TIME

PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk gave a passionate speech in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion Bill, saying the current laws fail to provide "care and comfort and clarity".

Speaking in State Parliament, Ms Palaszczuk said MPs had a once-in-a-century chance to make a "profound and lasting change" that would grant Queensland women a basic freedom.

"I support it as a respectful member of this house, as a lifelong advocate for women, as a representative of my electorate and, no means least, as a woman," she said.

"I've always believed a woman should be able to talk to her doctor about her own health and her own body without it being a crime."

Ms Palaszczuk said no MP would arrive at their decision lightly on the proposed laws, describing it as a "deeply, deeply personal issue".

"It is one of conscience," she said.

"I know because I took my time arriving at the decision, considering the Law Reform Commission report and talking to my colleagues and members of my electorate.

"Ultimately... this is a health issue."

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath also spoke in favour of the Bill, saying MPs had an obligation to the women of Queensland.

"I call on members to support this," she said.

"I know it might not be their perfect model, but it achieves those key aspects that many across the Parliament say they truly believe in."

Ms D'Ath said she was supporting the Bill as a woman and as a mother.

SUNSHINE COAST MPS SAY NO

LIBERAL National MP Steve Minnikin will vote for Labor's abortion Bill, describing his speech in support of the changes as one of the toughest he has made in the House.

His support helps shore up support for the Bill, with the vote to be tight.

Mr Minnikin is one of at least two Liberal National MPs expected to be voting for the changes after being afforded a conscience vote on the issue.

At least one Labor MP will vote against it: Jo-Ann Miller.

"No one should be forced to endure a pregnancy they do not want," Mr Minnikin told the House.

"I am not pro-abortion, I am pro-choice, pro-autonomy, pro-respect.

"If we are truly to be a modern egalitarian state... we need to decriminalise archaic laws."

LNP Member for Chatsworth Steve Minnikin
LNP Member for Chatsworth Steve Minnikin

Earlier, Tourism Minister Kate Jones told Parliament it was "fundamentally important" a Bill talked about all of her life was to be decided by a conscience vote.

But she said it was disappointing to see media reports "that elements of the LNP were still putting pressure on MPs in regard to them exercising their conscience".

Abortion vote: New threat to disendorse MPs

"I hope they (MPs) do have the strength to stand up to those threats within their party," she said.

"I fundamentally believe it should not be considered a criminal act in our state."

She said that the current criminal status of abortion unfairly impacted women, particularly those in remote areas of the state, from low socio-economic backgrounds and those of an aboriginal and Torres Strait Island background.

LNP Member for Surfers Paradise and onetime opposition leader John-Paul Langbroek saying he believes abortion should be removed from the Criminal Code.

However he revealed he would be voting against the Bill and the proposed amendments that would allow abortions up to 16 weeks gestation.

'TO ME IT IS NOTHING SHORT OF MURDER'

LNP Member for Burdekin Dale Last said he would not vote for the Bill, insisting it was flawed and fell well short of community expectations.

"I shudder to think that a women and perhaps her partner would consider terminating a life because it is the wrong sex or the relationship dissolved or it was no longer convenient to have a baby or the mother had lost her job," Mr Last told the House.

"To me this is nothing short of murder."

He said his constituents had urged him to oppose the changes.

Earlier another Liberal National MP, Mark McArdle, took a swipe at both sides of the debate for their behaviour in the lead-up the vote.

"I say to all people I will vote in regard this bill in relation to my conscience. I will not accept the gratuitous advice of those who seem to have the opinion that I should vote in a certain set manner," he said.

Mark McArdle says he cannot suppot the Bill without amendments. File picture
Mark McArdle says he cannot suppot the Bill without amendments. File picture

"I accept that this is an emotional Bill. But I want to put on the record that some parties on both sides of the debate need to reflect on their behaviour and tactics."

He described some of those tactics as "quite repulsive".

Mr McArdle will move amendments to the Bill including to reducing the gestational period until which a woman procure an abortion on request from 22 weeks to 16 and removing the reference to "social circumstances" as a consideration for a doctor deciding whether or not to grant an abortion after that gestational period.

"I have to say at this point in time I cannot support it (the Bill)," he said in explaining his call for amendments.

Katter's Australian Party MP Nick Dametto confirmed he would also vote against the Bill.

He told Parliament he and his now wife grappled with her pregnancy when they were in high school and that experienced shaped his decision to vote no.

"Seventeen years ago I was on high school and contemplating completing grade 12 and my now wife and I were faced with the dilemma of a teenage pregnancy," Mr Dametto told the House.

"We were given options and coming from a small town with all the social pressures in the world it would have been easier to abort.

"No one would ever had known.

"It could have changed or lives. But when I was faced with the stone cold facts that we were facing, the killing of our unborn son or daughter that was something that I would not be able to live with on my conscience for the rest of my life.

"Right there and then I knew where I would be voting on this, and I would be voting against the abortion Bill if it came up in the House."

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch speaks during Question Time today. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP
Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch speaks during Question Time today. Picture: Dan Peled/AAP

FACTS HAVE BEEN TWISTED, LIES HAVE BEEN PEDDLED

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch has spoken in support of the bill and slammed the "incredibly distressing" anti-abortion campaign, saying "facts have been twisted and lies have been peddled."

"I'm personally appalled at the baseless attacks on my parliamentary colleagues," she said.

Ms Enoch told Parliament her decision to support the bill was influenced by her childhood encounter with a young pregnant woman who was forced to travel interstate to obtain a legal abortion.

She said she was just six or seven years old when a woman came to stay with her family and witnessed the anguish she faced with her decision to end her pregnancy.

"It was one that weighed heavily on her," she said.

"She was not in this position because she was irresponsible or a terrible human being.

"She had thought this through. She had received medical advice ... and she had reached a conclusion that this was the best choice for her."

Ms Enoch said she never wanted another woman to suffer the same ordeal.

"It supports the fact that it is fundamentally a decision that is between her and her medical practitioner not anyone else including the criminal justice system," she said.

"I want to be part of a society that allows women choices, even if not everyone agrees."

Is this the best we can do? Trevor Watts says the Bill is extreme. File picture
Is this the best we can do? Trevor Watts says the Bill is extreme. File picture

'SERIOUSLY, IS THIS THE BEST WE CAN DO'

LNP frontbencher Trevor Watts told State Parliament he would vote against the Bill, criticising it for being extreme.

"Labor's extreme abortion Bill will allow termination of pregnancy for any reason, including gender selection, up to 22 weeks," he said.

"Labor's termination of pregnancy Bill is more extreme than legislation in other western nations.

"I ask everybody in this chamber to look to their conscience and ask themselves seriously is this the best we can do."

Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey says the decriminalisation of abortion is long overdue. File picture
Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey says the decriminalisation of abortion is long overdue. File picture

'WOMEN BEST PLACED TO MAKE THE DECISION'

Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the Bill was about "trusting women to make their own health and medical decision for themselves because they are in the best place to make those decisions."

Mr Bailey said it was well known he had been a long-time supporter of decriminalisation of abortion in Queensland.

"Health and medical matters are an issue for a woman and her doctor to discuss. they are not a matter for the Criminal Code.

"The time is long overdue in our state for women to stop being criminalised for making their own health choices in terms of fertility and pregnancy in consultation with their doctors," he said.

"While it may be true there have been few or no convictions under the current laws, it is undeniable the current law has been used as a weapon against women."

 

'I CAN'T AND WON'T BE SUPPORTING THIS BILL'

State Opposition MP and Member for Glass House Andrew Powell has told State Parliament he will vote against the bill and any amendments.

Mr Powell, a father of five and Evangelical Christian, has told Parliament he took issue with the absence of the word "abortion" in the bill, which uses the wording: "termination of pregnancy."

Andrew Powell
Andrew Powell

He also raised concerns about the difficulty of practitioner to refuse to have any role in an abortion.

"Yes this bill allows registered health practitioners, doctors and nurses, to consciously object, to advise, perform or assist in a termination, but it also requires that same practitioner to refer that woman to another health practitioner who the first health practitioner believes will perform the termination," Mr Powell said.

"For me it's pretty simple. While I accept that in some tragic situations, abortions are sadly required. I believe that life is precious and that that life starts at conception. Life doesn't start at 22 weeks. It doesn't start at 16 weeks. It doesn't start at four weeks. It starts at conception.

"I cannot support the proposal of a 22 week on demand abortion. I particularly cannot stomach an aborition for social reasons or that such could be allowed beyond 22 weeks.

He detailed the early arrival of his nephew at 28 weeks and three days back in 2013 to highlight the reason for his opposition.

Mr Powell said his nephew weighed just 1.1kg when born and "you could hold him in the palm of your hand."

"He is now a bubbly vivacious train-addicted five year old. But the point is he was life at 1.1kg, just as any other child delivered at term.

"I can't and won't be supporting this bill and I can't and won't be supporting any amendments."

 

Macalister MP Melissa McMahon with baby Mackenzie at Parliament in 2017. File picture
Macalister MP Melissa McMahon with baby Mackenzie at Parliament in 2017. File picture

'NO LAPEL PINS OR RIBBONS, BECAUSE IT'S UNCOMFORTABLE'

Labor backbencher Melissa McMahon has shared her personal story of miscarriage in an emotional contribution to the House on the Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

She pointed to the debate taking place in a week that began with International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.

"You may not heard much fanfare about it. It's not a widely recognised day. No lapel pins or ribbons, maybe because it's uncomfortable.

"It disrupts a narrative that pregnancy is all flowers, baby showers and nursery swaches.

"The reality is not all pregnancies have happy endings."

Ms McMahon described her joy at learning of her first child's impending arrival.

"But with each successive pregnancy and with each successive pregnancy loss, darkness and foreboding sets in and optimism goes out the window," she told the House.

"You don't get excited. You don't tell anyone because then you have to deal with the looks of pity when it is yet another loss.

"I know for myself I changed the rules. Don't tell anyone after 20 weeks and only if the scan is good."

Ms McMahon also revealed she believed her own mother may have made a different choice had the laws been different when she fell pregnant as a teenager.

"I am not insensible to the fact that had an abortion been legal and accessible some 40 odd years ago perhaps I may not be here today," the MP told the House.

"I don't think I would begrudge my mother for having looked at all the options in front of her. I'm sure it wasn't her plan to have to leave school and to be married before she could vote.

"Maybe she could have finished high school. I know she wanted a career. She could have studied. She could have travelled. All the things anyone would wish for their teenage daughter."

Ms McMahon will support her Government's changes.

 

Katter's Australian Party Queensland leader Robbie Katter says the party is opposed to changes. File picture
Katter's Australian Party Queensland leader Robbie Katter says the party is opposed to changes. File picture

LAWS WOULD LEAD TO GENDER SELECTION

KATTER'S Australian Party leader Robbie Katter has renewed his party's opposition to the abortion decriminalisation laws.

Mr Katter said he was concerned there was a greater chance that those who were "different" could be "cast aside from the gene pool" under the proposed laws.

"These children to me are certainly a gift to us and personally have enhanced mine and the parents' lives so much that I can't get my head around why they're now going to have a slimmer chance of experiencing life outside of the womb," he said.

"It stirs me very emotionally to think of the rights of the defenceless unborn life that I believe we are charged with protecting at all costs.

"I see it as the pinnacle of civilisation that we have the medical advancements to preserve life."

Mr Katter said it would be naive to believe the laws would not lead to

gender selection.

He said his party acknowledged "both sides of the argument" on the debate, but insisted their opposition to the Bill was central to their principles and beliefs.

KAP will also not be voting in favour of the amendments that have been put forward by Caloundra MP Mark McArdle, that would allow abortions to occur up to 16 weeks instead of the proposed 22 weeks.

 

Grace Grace says MPs have a duty to make history in the abortion debate. File picture
Grace Grace says MPs have a duty to make history in the abortion debate. File picture

'THESE WOMEN ARE NOT CRIMINALS'

Senior Government Minister Grace Grace has urged MPs to "make history" and support the Palaszczuk Government's Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

"We have a duty here today and an historic opportunity," Ms Grace told the House. "These women are not criminals, nor will they ever be. It is a modern world...and we have a duty in this House to make history."

Ms Grace rubbished claims the changes would lead to an increase in the number of abortions being performed.

"I don't accept for one minute that by doing that (removing abortion from the Criminal Code) we are going to have women lining up to have abortions.

"That is disrespectful.

"It was the same when we decriminalised homosexuality and I don't see everybody all of a sudden becoming a homosexual."

 

Mark Robinson MP speaks at an Abortion rethink rally outside Parliament House in Brisbane. Picture: Steve Pohlner
Mark Robinson MP speaks at an Abortion rethink rally outside Parliament House in Brisbane. Picture: Steve Pohlner

'THE PUBLIC OUTCRY HAS BEEN HUGE'

Pro-life LNP Mark Robinson has outlined his objection to the Bill, telling the house he believed the Queensland public was "strongly opposed" to the Bill.

Mr Robinson pointed to the thousands of signatures gathered on pro-life petitions and participated in marches and the large number of submissions to the parliamentary committee urging it to reject the Bill.

"The public outcry here in Queensland has been huge," he told the House.

"Altogether the public, I believe, is strongly opposed.

Mr Robinson, who attracted criticism for charging taxpayers to attend a pro-life rally in Melbourne, argued the changes would increase the number of abortions being performed and raised concerns about the impact of the Bill on late term abortion access.

"In terms of late term abortion, the Bill fails on many levels," Mr Robinson said.

"The issue of what is the latest term at which a late term abortion would be allowed...I haven't seen an upper limit of age in terms of the law itself."

He will vote against the Bill.

"Life is precious, life is sacred and I encourage the House this week to choose life."

 

BOLTON GIVES STATE GOVERNMENT CRUCIAL VOTE

Queensland's only independent MP Sandy Bolton has risen in State Parliament to indicate her support for the decriminalisation of abortion.

Her support would give the government another crucial vote to pass the Bill.

Ms Bolton said she believed the proposed laws could lead to a decline in the number of abortions in Queensland.

State Independent MP for Noosa Sandy Bolton will support the decriminalisation of abortion, saying she believed it could lead to a decrease in the number of procedures. Picture: Lachie Millard
State Independent MP for Noosa Sandy Bolton will support the decriminalisation of abortion, saying she believed it could lead to a decrease in the number of procedures. Picture: Lachie Millard

Her support would give the government another crucial vote to pass the Bill.

Ms Bolton said she believed the proposed laws could lead to a decline in the number of abortions in Queensland.

"To insinuate that decriminalising abortion will open the floodgates to rampant terminations is offensive, disrespectful and inaccurate, as statistics from Victoria indicate," she said.

"What is even more distasteful are the comments that women without a catastrophic reasons will be lining up for a late-term abortion.

"The inferences that are being made defines women in the most negative ways."



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