Australia State of Victoria Starts Debate in Parliament Over Legalizing Abortions

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 9, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia State of Victoria Starts Debate in Parliament Over Legalizing Abortions

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 9
, 2008

Melbourne, Australia ( — The parliament of the Australian state of Victoria has started to debate a bill that would officially legalize abortion there, even though abortions have been legal in the island nation for years. If approved, the state, the second largest by population in the nation, would allow abortions up to 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Abortions would be legal up to the point of viability for any reasons and then two doctors would have to sign off on whether the abortion is in the woman’s best medical interests.

Once the parliament completes the second reading on the bill, MPs are expected to introduce dozens of amendments to the legislation — with some coming from pro-life lawmakers and some from abortion backers.

One amendment expected to receive considerable debate is one to limit abortions to 20 weeks into pregnancy.

Labor backbencher Christine Campbell is the sponsor of the amendment to water down the bill as much as possible. She hopes more unborn children able to survive outside the womb will be protected.

‘What we’re arguing … is that if they are going to have abortion on demand in Victoria we have to be clear that children at six months in utero are perfectly viable," she told Sky News.

"If that child was born, they would be in intensive care at the hospital. You can’t have in the very same hospital, a child in one ward delivered and abandoned, and in another ward, one in intensive care," she said.

Other amendments would make counseling mandatory before the abortion and strengthen protections for medical professionals who don’t want to be involved in abortions.

As the bill currently reads, any physician who doesn’t want to do an abortion must refer the woman considering one to another doctor.

Campbell opposes that and says it is wrong to force medical personnel to violate their conscience or moral or religious views by making them refer women for abortions.

Sports minister James Merlino also opposes the bill and says it will open the door for more abortions in the state.

"We’ve already seen people coming in from Western Australia, for example, coming over to Victoria and I think that will increase," he told Sky News.

Liberal frontbencher Mary Wooldridge was the first to speak in favor of the bill, saying, "Today, I believe we stand up for a woman’s right to choose about her fertility."

The Nationals leader, Peter Ryan, says he will not accept the bill in any form.

"This bill seeks to legalize the killing of the innocent. I am opposed to it and I will vote against it," he said.

The debate is expected to occur this week with a final vote expected next month. The Lower House is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday.


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