by Steven Ertelt
August 21, 2007
Melbourne, Australia (LifeNews.com) — Members of the parliament in Victoria halted a potential debate for a second time on a bill that would officially decriminalize abortion in the Australian state. Labor MP Candy Broad withdrew her private member’s bill from the upper house after Premier John Brumby indicated a government bill is forthcoming.
The content of the abortion bill the government is planning won’t be known until early next year when the government receives advice from the Law Reform Commission.
Meanwhile, Sport and Recreation Minister James Merlino has said he would oppose any legislation to officially legalize abortions.
Merlino said Brumby made the right decision to put a government bill forward over the private bill but told The Age newspaper he would oppose either one.
"I’ve always been quite vocal on this issue and other issues and I will continue to be so," he said.
"My views are pretty clear on abortion; I’m not in favor of relaxing abortion laws and essentially what Candy Broad’s bill proposed to do was open slather, and I can’t support that," Merlino added.
Premier Brumby has indicated that lawmakers will have a conscience vote when the government bill reaches the parliament next year, so Merlino’s comments in opposition to the bill are not out of order.
Meanwhile, former Bracks government minister Christine Campbell said she would oppose the bill as well and put forward competing legislation to offer abortion alternatives to pregnant women and their unborn children.
Abortion is legal throughout Australia but the Victoria province never officially took laws prohibiting abortions off their books.
Brumby supports the official legalizing of abortion in Victoria but has said he doesn’t support Broad’s bill. Observers said Broad’s measure was not likely going to get enough support.
Figures show more than 84,000 women had abortions in Australia in 2003 but figures in Victoria are unknown because there are no legal requirements that abortions be reported to state officials.
Victoria is the second most populous Australian state, after New South Wales, with an estimated population of more than five million people. That puts it on par with the state of Minnesota.