Prominent Griffith businesswoman Anne Napoli has spoken out against NSW Greens moves to soften the state's abortion laws.
Her comments come after Greens supporters hung NSW MPs' photos attached to coat hangers outside NSW parliament - photos of the 25 members who voted down a Greens abortion reform bill. .
Greens NSW MP Mehreen Faruqi said her bill was about decriminalising abortion.
Opponents of the bill argued that abortion is in fact legal and accessible in NSW, and say the “extreme” nature of the Greens bill was the reason it got voted down.
Ms Napoli, speaking as an individual and not a councillor, said it was possible to be pro-women’s rights and against the Greens bill.
“I believe a woman should have the same rights as a man when it comes to careers choices, employment opportunities and equal pay.I would never judge a woman by the choices she makes,” she said.
”I believe in the right's of every human being and if we believe that an unborn child is a human being, than we need to have a moral conscience.”
“The proposed reform was to provide no gestational limits on when the Abortion can be performed. In my view this is so, so wrong, where is the right to life of the unborn child.”
“Abortion should not be used as another form of contraception. Contraceptives are readily available to any woman.”
Supporters of abortion reform also had problems with the Greens bill.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) NSW president Brad Frankum had said, “AMA (NSW) has reservations with the Greens’ bill in terms of how broadly it applies and how loosely it defines important issues.”
”We agree it is time to review the law in NSW and therefore recommend that the matter should be referred to the Law Reform Commission for serious consideration, if progress is to be made.”
NSW Labor health spokesman Walt Secord voted for the Greens bill, but did not support the way Dr Faruqi conducted the matter.
"I liken Dr Faruqi actions to taking a giant stick and poking it into a beehive, shaking it like hell and then walking away," Mr Secord said.
"She is willing to jeopardise the current situation for her own base political advantage."
Greens protesters at NSW parliament chanted "no back alleys in the night, for safe abortions we will fight!" as they hung up their coat hangers and named and shamed opponents.
Nevertheless, there are legal abortions in NSW. Rebecca Anderson, of the group Abortion Rethink, said that an estimated 25,000 legal abortions are partially funded through the Medicare rebate system in NSW per year.
Abortion law in NSW is unclear, however.
“Unlawful” abortion is currently prohibited by the NSW Crimes Act.
However, a legal precedent for abortion has been established by court decisions, essentially allowing doctors to terminate pregnancies when they identify mental or physical health risks to women.
There are many accredited abortion clinics across NSW, and a nurse who works in a clinic told us she’s never seen a client denied a request for abortion, provided the pregnancy was in the first 20 weeks.
“Any unwanted pregnancy can impact on mental health,” she said.
Cost and distance may be a greater barrier to abortion than legislation – particular for women in regional areas like the MIA.
The Greens bill proposed abolishing the clauses of the Crimes Act that prohibited abortion.
Ms Anderson said this would enabled late term abortions and allowed for terminations to be carried out by non-doctors.
NSW Liberal MP Catherine Cusack told Fairfax Media that she believed the Greens bill was “an effort to test our female premier on women's issues and not as a genuine effort for reform which is what women are entitled to expect”.
Ms Anderson said it’s very difficult to have reasoned debate on this topic, with strong emotions on both sides and an unwillingness to comprise.
As the political stalemate continues, so do NSW’s murky abortion laws.
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