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Radical New South Wales bill will allow abortion till birth, now up for debate

Lianne Laurence Lianne Laurence Follow Lianne

SYDNEY, Australia, August 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Australian province of New South Wales is in the process of passing a radical abortion bill that will allow abortion up to birth.

The Legislative Assembly of New South Wales passed the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 on August 8 by a vote of 59 to 31, and the Legislative Council is scheduled to debate it on August 20.

The bill will allow a child in the womb to be aborted for any reason up to 22 weeks gestation, and from 22 weeks gestation up to birth if two doctors recommend the abortion for physical, social, or psychological reasons.

Introduced by independent Alex Greenwich on August 1, the law does not require any counselling or a waiting period for the mother and mandates that doctors with conscientious objections refer her to an abortionist, the Catholic Herald reported.

It does make it a crime for individuals without proper authorization to commit an abortion, with a conviction for this offence punishable by up to seven years in jail.

The legislative assembly voted down two amendments August 8, one from Tanya Davies, a Liberal Party member and former women’s minister, to ban sex-selective abortion, and another mandating that a child born alive after an abortion be given life-saving care, it reported.

The M.P.s instead agreed to formally express “disapproval” of sex-selection abortion and review the issue in a year.

M.P. Davies told Sky News Australia that for her stand, she received death threats, which she reported to police, and she excoriated the government of Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian for “trashing due process” by pushing the bill through the assembly with such haste.

Many in her constituency of Western Sydney are “white hot with anger” over the passing of a “radical abortion bill,” Davies said.

“Let’s smash the smoke screen. This is not a reproductive health…this is not taking abortion out of the crimes act and putting it in health care. This is an abortion bill,” she said.

Liberal M.P. Wendy Tuckerman told the Crookwell Gazette she received more than 600 calls, as well as correspondence from constituents, with the majority protesting the bill.

Although a “pro-choice advocate,” Tuckerman voted against the bill, she said.

“This bill allows abortions to occur very late in pregnancy and in circumstances without a medical need or the provisos that currently exists [sic],” she told the Gazette. “At 22 weeks, that’s a five-and-a-half-month old fetus.”

Abortion is currently illegal in New South Wales under Section S82L of its Crimes Act, and a mother and doctor would incur penalties for procuring an abortion. However, abortion is permitted if a doctor determines that a pregnancy would seriously endanger a mother's physical or mental health. The courts have expanded the definition of "mental health" to include "economic and social stress," the Catholic Herald reported.

As the bill was being debated and voted on, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney was open for 65 hours of ongoing Eucharistic adoration from August 5 until August 8, and hundreds of pro-lifers participated in a prayer vigil at the legislature, the Herald reported.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney blasted the bill when it passed.

“If a civilization is to be judged by how it treats its weakest members, New South Wales failed spectacularly today,” said the Dominican prelate, as quoted in the Catholic Herald.

The bill “still allows abortion right up to birth,” he said. “It conscripts all medical practitioners and institutions into the abortion industry by requiring them to perform abortions themselves or direct women to an abortion provider. It still does nothing to protect mothers or their unborn children or to give them real alternatives.”

Bishop Richard Umbers, an auxiliary bishop of Sydney and the Australian bishops’ delegate for life; Bishop Michael McKenna of Bathurst; and Fr. David Ranson, administrator of the Diocese of Broken Bay, issued statements against the bill.

Umbers also thanked those who “rallied to oppose the culture of death,” the Catholic Herald reported.

“The graces given by God to the people of Sydney as a result of your fervent and tireless prayers and support for life will bring about great good for NSW in ways we will be blessed to witness and in many unknown ways,” he said.

Archbishop Fisher likewise thanked “the thousands of people who spoke up on behalf of the unborn and their mothers by contacting their MPs, by maintaining a consistent presence at Parliament House, and by praying for the defeat of this bill at round‐the‐clock vigils at St Mary’s Cathedral and elsewhere.”

He exhorted them to continue these efforts as the bill advances to the National Council.

“Please continue to pray for a civilization of life and love, and to make your views known to the members of the Legislative Council, asking them to vote against this bill,” Fisher said.

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