Lower House in Victoria Approves Bill Legalizing Abortion, Upper House Up Next
by Steven Ertelt
September 11, 2008
Melbourne, Australia (LifeNews.com) — The lower house in the parliament of the Australian state of Victoria approved a bill to officially legalize abortions even though they have been allowed for years on the island nation. Under the so-called Abortion Law Reform Bill, abortions will be allowed for any reason up to 24 weeks into pregnancy.
Lawmakers approved the bill early Friday morning on a 48-28 vote with MPs getting a conscience vote allowing them to depart from the party position on the legislation.
The house had been debating some 41 amendments to the bill since Tuesday, with most of them coming from pro-life lawmakers looking to limit the effect of the legislation.
Some of them pertained to conscience clauses for medical personnel or lowing the allowance for abortion from 24 weeks to 20 weeks into pregnancy. But, the lower house rejected every amendment before approving the final bill.
Premier John Brumby says he expects a closer vote in the upper house but says he believes the bill would be approved by the end of the year.
The debate on the abortion bill saw strange pairings as Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu joined with Premier John Brumby, while Deputy Premier Rob Hulls crossed the floor to oppose the bill.
Currently, about 20,000 abortions are done every year in Victoria and pro-life campaigners are worried that number will increase with the legislation.
Backers of the bill said it would just keep the status quo, which upset Labor backbencher Christine Campbell.
”If I had a dollar for every time we’ve heard that during this debate … that would pay for our election campaign,” she said.
Under the bill two doctors would have to sign off on an abortion done after 24 weeks into pregnancy.
Campbell was 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 have made 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.
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