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July 6, 2022

Vote against Greens bill ‘keeps abortion a crime in NSW’

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North-coast based MLC Ben Franklin.
North-coast based MLC Ben Franklin has defended voting down a Greens abortion bill aimed at bringing NSW law in line with other states.

North Coast National Party MLC Ben Franklin has defended voting down a Greens bill in parliament yesterday which aimed to decriminalise abortion in line with other states and territories.

The bill, introduced by the Greens spokesperson for women, Dr Mareen Faruqi, was voted down 25-14 in the NSW Legislative Council, in what she said was a conscience vote for the Liberal, National and Labor parties.

Mr Franklin, the coalition’s deputy whip in the council, said he voted against the bill voted ‘reluctantly’ for several reasons, including that it did not require a ‘qualified clinician’ to perform an abortion.

The bill, he said, also ‘didn’t place any regulations or structures around community expectations on abortion’ and that it would have allowed ‘very late term abortions, right until birth’.

He said he agreed with the Australian Medical Association’s view of the bill that it was ‘time for the law to be reviewed in NSW’, but the ‘extremity of this piece of legislation meant that I could not support it’.

Dr Faruqi said she was disappointed the NSW Legislative Council ‘has voted to keep abortion a crime in NSW, a position that is completely out of step with modern medical practice, community expectation and laws in almost all other states in NSW’.

‘But the genie is out of the bottle now, more people than ever are awakened to this injustice and I am confident that under a less conservative parliament, less dominated by conservative men, abortion will be taken out of the Crimes Act and women will be able to access reproductive health clinics without harassment in future,’ she said.
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‘It is really disappointing to see that every member of the Liberal and National party voted against decriminalisation of  abortion and only one of them stood up to tell the community why.

‘This bill was not about promoting or not promoting abortion. It was about choice.

‘It was disappointing to see every member of the Liberal and National party vote against decriminalisation while only one of them actually stood up to tell the community why?

‘It is a shame that these politicians didn’t have the courage to see through the highly resourced and highly organised scare campaigns waged by the Catholic Church and other anti-choice groups. Ultimately, they will have to explain to their communities why they refused to support this pro-choice bill.’

The bill, she said, aimed to bring NSW in line with Victoria, the ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory by decriminalising abortion and providing safe access zones.

‘It is a truism that politicians are completely out of step with community expectations but they have reaffirmed it once again. I am disappointed that not a single member of the Liberal or National parties voted to remove abortion from the Crimes Act, showing how out of touch they are.

‘I’m proud of the campaign that we have run over the last few years and it will continue. Talking to women, doctors and nurses across NSW from Byron to Bega, from Albury to Newcastle and across Sydney, one thing is for sure, there is an overwhelming appetite in the community for a woman’s choice and for abortion to be taken out of the Crimes Act.

‘We came up against the mistruths and the misinformation put out by the Catholic Church, the Australian Christian Lobby and other anti-abortion groups. But these deeply conservative institutions can’t hold back the movement that has started. Religion, whether it is mine or anyone else’s, should not deny someone their rights and choices.

‘Young people overwhelmingly supported this reform because they can see the hypocrisy. No amount of scare campaigns can hold back the tide. This was about putting abortion access on the political agenda. We succeeded in that and we will continue the campaign.

‘I particularly think of rural and regional women today, who are the most impacted by abortion being in the Crimes Act, which keeps it scarce, expensive and privatised. I think the members of the Legislative Council who voted against the bill and against the reproductive rights of their constituents have a lot of explaining to do.

‘Ultimately, the provisions in my bill are operating in various parts of Australia effectively. MPs that voted against this bill need to explain why they think women in NSW deserve fewer rights and fewer protections than women in Victoria, Tasmania or the ACT,’ Dr Faruqi said.

How the Legislative Council voted:

FOR: 14
Jeremy Buckingham (Greens), Mehreen Faruqi (Greens), Justin Field (Greens), John Graham (Labor), Mark Pearson (Animal Justice Party), Daniel Mookhey (Labor), Peter Primrose (Labor), Adam Searle (Labor), Walt Secord (Labor) Penny Sharpe (Labor), David Shoebridge (Greens), Mick Veitch (Labor) Lynda Voltz (Labor), Dawn Walker (Greens),

AGAINST: 25
Lou Amato (Liberal), Niall Blair (Nationals) , Robert Borsak (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers), Robert Brown (Shooters, Fishers and Farmers), David Clarke  (Liberal), Rick Colless (Nationals),  Catherine Cusack (Liberal), Greg Donnelly (Labor), Scott Farlow (Liberal Party), Ben Franklin (Nationals), Duncan Gay (Nationals) , Trevor Khan (Nationals), Scot MacDonald (Liberal), Natasha Maclaren-Jones (Liberal), Shayne Mallard (Liberal), Taylor Martin (Liberal),  Sarah Mitchell (Nats), Paul Green (Christian Democratic Party), Don Harwin (Liberal), , Shaoquett Moselmane (Labor), Reverend Fred Nile (Christian Democratic Party), Greg Pearce (Liberal), Peter Phelps (Liberal), Bronnie Taylor (Nats), Ernest Wong (Labor).


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