September 7th 2019


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Hong Kong's David and Goliath struggle

CLIMATE ALARMISM Governments plan to do what the climate itself has so far failed to do: Impoverish our lives

GENDER POLITICS Transgender sport policies are now in Morrison's court/pitch/field

LIFE ISSUES Sloppily drafted NSW abortion bill invites open slather

LIFE ISSUES NSW abortion bill: Nothing but danger and death ahead

GENDER POLITICS From Safe Schools to 2,400 child transitioners

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Confucius Institutes: China's art of soft power

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Why Cardinal Pell is appealing to the High Court

CLIMATE POLITICS Political posturing ignores true forces shaping Pacific islands

HISTORY AND POLITICS Lord Acton, nationalism and multiculturalism, Part 1 of two parts

HISTORY The lost Namban Caves

HUMOUR Incense and Insensibility

MUSIC Refinement: Delicate touches that make all the difference

CINEMA Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood: The day the music died ...

BOOK REVIEW All are losers in classroom warfare

BOOK REVIEW Model minority strikes back

LETTERS

POETRY

CARDINAL PELL APPEAL FILE

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LIFE ISSUES
Sloppily drafted NSW abortion bill invites open slather


by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, September 7, 2019

Would the New South Wales abortion bill (the Reproductive Health Care Bill 2019) allow a woman’s violent domestic partner to request an abortion for her?

Would it allow the father of a girl who is the victim of incest to request that an abortion be performed on her?

Would it allow a pedophile to request an abortion on a girl he has been sexually abusing?

The way the Bill is drafted, it does not require the person on whom the abortion is to be performed to make the request and it does allow a person other than the woman to request the abortion. So these scenarios are possible.

There has been an outcry over the Bill allowing gender-selection abortion. This is another outrageous situation the Bill does not exclude. The problem is in the poor drafting of the Bill. If it is supposed to protect the health of women and provide them with choice, then it falls short of the mark.

There is nothing in the Bill that res­pects a woman’s choice. Sections 5 and 6 provide that a doctor “may perform” an abortion, but neither even mentions that a patient request is necessary. So, does the Bill require that a request be made in order for a doctor to be allowed to perform an abortion? Or can the doctor decide it is in the woman’s best interests to have an abortion?

Who has to make the request if one has to be made? Must it be the woman herself? Or can someone else (violent husband/partner, coercive parent, incestuous father/relative) request an abortion be performed on the woman?

An amendment passed by the lower house requires “informed consent”. But surely requiring the person on whom the abortion is to be performed directly to request the abortion would be an obvious way to satisfy this requirement. Otherwise it is toothless. And why is documented evidence of informed consent not required? And why doesn’t the Bill require written consent?

There is no minimum age requirement for a doctor to perform an abortion. What about informed consent if a girl is a minor, that is, under 18 years of age? What about mandatory reporting of suspected child sex abuse? Where is the requirement for custodial parents to be informed when a young girl is taken to an abortion clinic? Where is the conscience about child protection and child safety?

The Bill does not require counselling. An amendment in the lower house only requires the medical practitioner to “assess whether or not it would be beneficial to discuss … accessing counselling”. If there is to be a real choice for women, then surely counselling to explore all the options should be required to be offered. And how can there be “informed consent” in the absence of counselling and full information on available support services being provided so a woman can make a truly informed choice?

And most Australians want information and counselling for women. A 2005 survey of 1200 Australians by the Southern Cross Bioethics Centre showed that 98 per cent wanted women to be given information on the health risks of abortion; 99 per cent wanted access to counselling for women contemplating abortion; 86 per cent wanted independent counselling from someone independent of the abortion provider; 94 per cent wanted women contemplating abortion to be provided with information on alter­natives and support services.

And a 2018 survey of Queenslanders showed that 88 per cent supported counselling and 85 per cent supported full information for women so they can give informed consent.

A 2017 survey of people in NSW found that 90 per cent agreed that a woman should have the right to independent counselling from a source that has no financial interest in her decision, so that she can make a fully informed decision. It also found that 93 per cent agreed that a woman considering abortion should have the right to be informed of the physical and psychological risks associated with abortion, and the support available should she wish to continue with the pregnancy.

The current “Policy framework for abortions in NSW hospitals” provides the following support and protections for women:

Appropriate and adequate information must be provided to patients in order for the patient to make an informed choice about treatment.

All women seeking a termination of pregnancy are to be offered counselling.

Evidence of counselling from an appropriately qualified health-care professional must be documented as having been offered and a copy of the counsellor’s report provided to the treating medical practitioner. Where the medical practitioner provides counselling, documentation of the counselling must be included in the medical record.

Written consent of the woman is to be obtained by the treating medical practitioner before a pregnancy termination is performed.

Women must be provided with sufficient information about the treatment options, benefits, possible adverse effects or complications, and the likely result if the treatment is not undertaken, in order to be able to make their own decision about undergoing the termination.

A medical practitioner has a legal duty to warn a woman of any material risks to her physical or mental health from the proposed termination.

The Bill as drafted does not meet these standards.




























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