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Data collection is a key issue in abortion debate tonight

Future debates about Abortion could be shaped by amendments on data collection being debated tonight in the NSW Legislative Council. The lack of accessible and reliable information about abortion in Australia has made the subject difficult to discuss in the past.

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A motion that compels medical practitioners performing terminations to supply information about the termination to the Secretary of Health  has been moved by Niall Blair (Nationals). The information would nee non-identifying.

A second set of amendments  moved by Greg Donnelly (Labor) would require the the Secretary of Health to publish abortion stats annually and collect more detailed information.

Matthew Mason Cox (Liberal) said the “extra level of detail required by the Donnelly amendment was to be commended.” As legislators the extra information will allow us to review. He pointed out that Medicare information captured miscarriages as well as abortions, making the Medicare information hard to use.

David Shoebridge (Greens) said “Abortions should be treated as a medical procedure with the same rules as other medical procedures.” He regarded the Donnelly amendment as a weapon against abortion.

Penny Sharpe (Labor) had changed her mind and would now support the Blair amendment. She said some of the data gathered any the Donnelly amendment – date of birth and  locality would put women in abusive relationships at risk. Sharpe felt that we need to understand reproductive health better so supported data collection. “I want to see fewer abortions every day, but collecting information is not how you do it. You do it by education.”

The Donnelly amendment is lost 25 -14

The Blair amendment is passed 31-8

There is no requirement to publish the figures in the Blair amendment, but from the debate it appears they will be public in some form.

This continues the pattern that began on Thursday of moderate compromise amendments passing.

An amendment to review the Act (if the bill passes) after two years rather than the normal five, is moved by Matthew Mason-Cox (Liberal). This would be in light of the data produced by the amendment that was just passed, and a review into sex selection.

Fred Nile (Christian Democrats) said that a contentious bill should be reviewed early.

Abigail Boyd (Greens) “I speak for a number of people who feel that harm has been caused by the debate.”

Penny Sharpe (Labor) “Two years is too short for meaningful data to be produced.”

The Mason-Cox amendment was lost 25-14

An amendment to establish a consistent definition of the word “emergency” in the bill moved by Mark Latham (One Nation). The word is used for abortions in the case of emergencies.

Trevor Khan (National) and Abigail Boyd (Green) said that we were in danger of too tight a prescription of emergency.

Courtney Houssos (Labor) moved an amendment to include “permanent incapacity or other serious injury” – Lathan accepted it.

The Latham amendment is lost 25-14

The house rises until 8pm

On return the Liberals’ Lou Amato moves a motion about informed consent. This amendment would codify medical guidelines for doctors, including what information they should give patients seeking a termination.

Adam Searle (Labor) says clinical practice is a matter for the medical profession which should be free to update them.

Abigail Boyd (Greens) I am not convinced there is a flaw that requires a remedy.

Natasha McClaren-Jones (Liberals) supports the amendment, and points out that guileless have been copied in other parts of the bill.

Amato’s amendment is lost 13-26.

Matthew Mason-Cox (Liberal) moves an amendment about criminal penalties for Medical Practitioners who flout the bill.

Fred Nile (Christian Democrats) says removing abortion from the crimes act, removes penalties for negligence.

Scott Farlow (Liberal) says we should make sure qualified people act in accordance with this bill.

Mason-Cox’s amendment is lost 25-14

A group of amendments regarding coercion, some with regard to sex selection is moved. The first  by Robert Borsak (Shooters and Fishers). He cites an example of a woman who had eight terminations. “How can she have eight abortions and it not be coercion?” he asked.

Penny Sharpe (Labor) moves another amendment on reproductive coercion. The important point is that women should be free from intimidation whether they want a termination or not.

Niall Blair (Nationals) decided to support Penny Sharpe’s amendment believing it was superior to his. He notes Sharpe’s motion mentions sex selection coercion.

Abigail Wylde (Greens) opposed both amendments, believing they failed to add protection for women, with provisions in the Crimes Act already sufficient.

Damien Tudehope (Liberal) reported a graphic story of a woman being intimidated into abortion.

Greg Donnelly (Labor) quoted several academic studies on domestic violence and abortion. He finished with a story of meeting a protester “Maria”, who was forced into an abortion. “I think of my child every day. every time I see a young man or woman of 25, I think this could be my child.”

The Borsak amendment was lost 14-25

The Sharpe amendment passes 30-8

 

 

 

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