Anger as women are ‘left out’ of historic abortion bill

EXCLUSIVE: A war has erupted over the lack of the word "women" in a parliamentary bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW with detractors arguing it's "ludicrous" females are being erased for the term "persons".

The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 - which runs to over nine pages with 2000 words - does not mention the terms "woman" or "female" once.

Instead, the word "person" appears about 50 times.

It comes as The Daily Telegraph can reveal 22 transgender men gave birth in the 2018-2019 financial year, according to Medicare statistics which allow patients to nominate their own gender. Of this group, 13 were from NSW.

Former NSW Liberal minister for women Tanya Davies said it is "beyond belief" a bill framed around women's reproductive rights had effectively "silenced women" by making them "invisible".

Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies says it is ‘beyond belief’ the bill doesn’t mention the word ‘women’. Picture: AAP
Mulgoa MP Tanya Davies says it is ‘beyond belief’ the bill doesn’t mention the word ‘women’. Picture: AAP


"It's clear the gender fluidity ideology has rammed its way into this bill," the Mulgoa MP said last night.

"Clearly the authors … want to impose on the people of NSW the politically correct and absurd view that men can get pregnant and have abortions too."

Ms Davies was among several Liberal members who pressured Premier Gladys Berejiklian to delay the introduction of the bill during a heated party room meeting last week.

Among the chief issues are concerns it is being rushed through parliament and allows women to access abortions right up until birth.

The legislation would allow abortion upon request from a registered doctor up to 22-weeks gestation.

Pro-choice advocates and supporters of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill hold a rally outside the New South Wales parliament. Picture: AAP
Pro-choice advocates and supporters of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill hold a rally outside the New South Wales parliament. Picture: AAP

It would still be legal beyond 22-weeks, however women will require the approval of two doctors who "consider that, in all the circumstances, the termination should be performed".'

Independent MP Alex Greenwich, who introduced the bill to parliament last week, said his speech "makes it clear the bill is about women" who he referred to 35 times.

"This is best practice drafting on the advice of Parliamentary Counsel who drafted the bill," he said.

 

 

Family Planning NSW medical director Dr Deborah Bateman slammed Ms Davies' comments as a "desperate attempt to delay decriminalisation of abortion, which we know the public wants to proceed".

"(We) see all people regardless of their background and that's a key way in which we work - we're very supportive of the bill as it's been drafted," she said.

NSW Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said his speech to parliament last week made it clear the bill is about women. Picture: AAP
NSW Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said his speech to parliament last week made it clear the bill is about women. Picture: AAP

NSW Pro-Choice Alliance campaign manager Sinead Canning said women would be "completely protected" under the term persons.

In a joint statement released today, Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies pointed out the bill also "avoids using the word 'mother'".

"But more importantly (it) provides no protections for vulnerable women and no counselling before or after a decision whether or not to abort their baby," they said.

The bill will be debated in the lower house on Tuesday.



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