A couple of piece of legislation are before the NSW Parliament's upper house (the Legislative Council) that seek to vastly loosen the current restrictions on abortion and to proscribe various forms of protest against abortion.
The Roman Catholics, who are always excellent on this issue, have a great summary of the situation:
The first of these bills was introduced by Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi. The Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill 2016 seeks to do three things:
- it would make abortion legal, right up until the moment of birth;
- it would require doctors who object to abortion to refer any woman who is seeking advice about pregnancy options to a medical professional who does not object; and
- it would enforce a buffer zone around abortion clinics which would prevent those who wish to offer assistance to pregnant women or hold prayerful vigils for life from coming within 150 metres from a clinic. Those who did so would be punished with thousands of dollars in fines and/or up to 12 months imprisonment.
The proposed laws would allow abortion, right up until birth.
The second of these bills was introduced by Labor MLC Penny Sharpe. The Summary Offences Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill 2017 would similarly enforce exclusion zones around abortion clinics, making prayerful vigils like the popular 40 Days for Life punishable with fines and imprisonment.
The piece also links to a petition that is being circulated throughout NSW [pdf], although at the time of writing the deadline for submission has passed.
Neil Foster (Law and Religion Australia) also has a helpful piece on the issue of free speech and abortion.
Yesterday I sought to leverage the good relationship we have with our local State MP by writing to him on this topic. You'll see that my letter makes use of the language in the petition and also setting out a very basic Christian response on these issues. I would love to hear your thoughts.
1 May 2017
Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Summary Offences Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill 2017
I’m writing on behalf of our church community to express our concern about the above legislation which is due to be debated by the Legislative Council. While you do not have a seat on the Council I felt this was still the right moment to write to you given the high level of interest in these bills in our The Abortion Law Reform Bill will effectively make abortion legal at any point up until birth and remove punishment for unlawful abortions. This will increase the potential danger to women by removing restrictions against unqualified persons performing an abortion including self-administered abortions and allows the abortion of viable babies right up until birth with no restrictions at all. Furthermore, it fails to include safeguards to ensure women give fully informed consent and (by requiring a doctor who objects to abortion to nevertheless refer a patient on to an abortion provider) overrides any professional or conscientious objection that medical practitioners may have to abortion.
As you well know many women have abortions as a result of pressure, coercion, lack of support and/or domestic violence from others, particularly their male partners and this legislation therefore further increases the likelihood that the most vulnerable in our society will be effectively forced into being complicit in the death of their children. It is a tragedy that abortion is far more prevalent in areas of social disadvantage (of which the Parish of Glenquarie is one example amongst many in your constituency) and this legislation, by reducing restrictions on abortion, will only serve to increase the damage and heartache inflicted upon so many women who feel compelled to have their children killed, let alone the tragic needless death of the unborn.
We also have grave concerns about the move in both bills to limit freedom of speech and assembly for New South Wales residents by seeking to ban anyone seeking to peacefully protest or make offers of assistance to women attending an abortion clinic. The bills seek to sanction such irenic life-affirming actions with large fines and imprisonment. Such a move would appear to be in contradiction to the NSW Labor Party’s Basic Principles which include "14. Recognition and protection of fundamental political and civil rights, including freedom of expression…”.
As Christians we have just celebrated Easter where, in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, we affirm the value of all human life. Further, we are called in the Scriptures to advocate for the most vulnerable in our society; in this case the unborn children and their mothers who are both victims of abortion. We urge you for the sake of the most vulnerable amongst us to use whatever influence you have to act against both these bills being passed and, when the time comes, to vote against them yourself.
Please be assured of our regular prayers for you in your very busy work for our community. We are grateful to have such a dedicated advocate representing us and I personally appreciate your support of Glenquarie Anglican Church and Break the Cycle, Glenquarie.