The first round of debates are underway this week on the floor of NSW Parliament, for a historic abortion bill that has stirred up emotional protests from both sides of the floor.
Abortion is a very emotive, sensitive topic and it’s understandable the people on both sides of the issue are very passionate about their stance.
However, I’m not sure that yelling and shouting to get your point across has ever been an effective way to change someone else’s point of view?
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A strong police presence amassed outside parliament to separate clashing protesters.
So what is everyone fighting about?
The crux of it is this: introduced by independent MP Alex Greenwich last week, the new bill would see the end the 119-year criminalisation of abortion in NSW.
As of this moment in time, to get an abortion in NSW is currently illegal. As in: for a women to terminate her pregnancy, it is considered a criminal offence, unless a doctor finds any economic, social or medical ground or reason that abortion is required to avoid serious danger to the pregnant woman’s life or to her physical or mental health.
The new bill aims to take abortion out of the criminal act. It would also allow abortion after 22 weeks’ gestation, with the consent of two doctors – something that pro-lifers have jumped on, claiming that the new law will allow doctors to terminate a pregnancy right up until full gestation.
In my view, this is more than a little offensive to doctors, who go into the medical professional to save lives, not end them…! It also muddies the core issue, which is the fact that all women deserve to have safe and clear access to abortion.
This is something that even the Uniting Church understands, writing in a letter to MPs: “When abortion is practised indiscriminately it damages respect for human life. However, we live in a broken world where people face difficult decisions.”
Whilst many religious leaders have come out this past week blazing in protest to the law, Reverend Simon Hansford has said that the Uniting Church believes abortion should not be treated as a criminal issue, and moral judgement should not be passed on the act itself.
“There’s a whole series of understandings of what terminations are about. The reasons for it, women’s lives, children’s lives – a whole range of things and it can’t be simplified down into a black and white issue,” Hansford says.
It’s a reminder of the one thing that often gets lost in this debate – that respect for life doesn’t stop with the pregnancy. It also means respecting the needs of women, as well as the unborn child.