Just two of the Gold Coast’s 11 State MPs voted in favour of laws to decriminalise abortion in Queensland despite polls showing an overwhelming number of Gold Coasters support the change.
Labor Member for Gaven Meaghan Scanlon and LNP Member for Currumbin Jann Stuckey were among the 50 State MPs that backed the changes.
Mudgeeraba MP Ros Bates, Burleigh MP Michael Hart, Mermaid Beach MP Ray Stevens, Surfers Paradise MP John-Paul Langbroek, Bonney MP Sam O’Connor, Southport MP Rob Molhoek, Broadwater MP David Crisafulli, Coomera MP Michael Crandon and Theodore MP Mark Boothman all voted against the reforms.
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Ms Scanlon made her position clear from the outset.
“I am proudly pro-choice and firmly believe that a woman should be able to make a decision about her own health, in consultation with her medical practitioner, without that being a crime,” Ms Scanlon told Parliament.
She also praised Ms Stuckey for supporting the bill.
“Jann and I don’t always agree on things, but a genuine and heartfelt thank you to the Member for Currumbin for voting for Gold Coast women,” she told myGC.
“I was incredibly disappointed to see all of the other Gold Coast LNP MPs voting to keep abortion in the criminal code.”
Ms Stuckey remained undecided earlier in the week, telling Parliament she would listen to the rest of the debate before settling on her position.
“Like many honourable members and Queenslanders, I believe that medical and surgical terminations performed by medical professionals should be decriminalised,” she said.
“I have listened intently to both sides of this issue. I have lost sleep and agonised over my final decision.”
In the end she joined fellow LNP MPs Tim Nicholls and Steve Minnikin as the only Opposition MPs to cross the floor.
Ros Bates said she supported taking abortion out of the criminal code but was not comfortable with the 22-week gestational period.
“In my view it is not appropriate. The 22-week limit for a termination with no required reason is far too late a time,” Ms Bates told Parliament on Tuesday.
Michael Hart and Ray Stevens expressed similar sentiments.
“I totally agree that it should be up to a woman to decide what happens with her body and her health. However, on-demand terminations at 22 weeks is way too late,” Mr Hart said.
“That is a very late time, even for someone as illiterate in these matters as I am, to be condoning terminations of pregnancy for social reasons,” Mr Stevens told Parliament.
Bonney MP Sam O’Connor was also worried about the 22-week period.
“I support decriminalisation. I believe that a significant majority of members in this House share that opinion,” Mr O’Connor said.
“In my opinion, and in that of many of my constituents, to allow terminations on request up until 22 weeks gestation is too high a threshold.”
John-Paul Langbroek raised concerns about the laws that would establish safe zones around abortion clinics.
“The question here is whether or not the obvious limitation on free speech is justified,” Mr Langbroek said.
“We already have laws that prohibit conduct that seeks to harass, intimidate or create a public nuisance. Full consideration has not been given to whether existing laws are sufficient.”
Mark Boothman said he was voting in line with the wishes of his electorate.
“The vast majority of my local residents who have contacted me have expressed their concerns about this bill,” Mr Boothman told Parliament.
“Whilst I may have a deep-seated belief in the individual’s right, there is also the right of the unborn healthy child.”
Rob Molhoek claimed the legislation was an overreach.
“I wish that this was just a bill to remove termination of pregnancy from the Criminal Code, but it is not,” Mr Molhoek said.
“I wish that the bill before the House simply sought to amend the Criminal Code to remove the offence provisions from the code and leave most of the practices currently in place as they are.”
David Crisafulli was the only Gold Coast MP not to speak on the bill during the debate.