Bishops urge NSW politicians to support Zoe's law for foetuses

Bishop Fisher

At least three Catholic bishops have written to New South Wales politicians urging them to vote for Zoe’s law, a controversial bill that opponents say could interfere with the legality of abortion, reports The Guardian.

The bill, which gives personhood to a foetus, passed NSW’s Lower House last year and members of the Legislative Council were briefed that it was going to be introduced into the Upper House a fortnight ago. But it was pulled at the last minute.

It is understood supporters of the bill believed it was heading for an emphatic defeat and wanted more time to lobby MLCs.

Guardian Australia understands at least three bishops – the Bishop of Wollongong Peter Ingham, the Bishop of Parramatta Anthony Fisher and the Bishop of Lismore Geoffrey Jarrett – have joined the lobbying for the bill, writing to MLCs in the past week.

The law will make it an offence to purposefully harm a foetus older than 20 weeks or weighing more than 400 grams, although it exempts any medical procedures or anything done with the mother’s consent which is meant to protect women from being prosecuted for having an abortion.

Legal experts have argued this is not enough as the legislation still gives personhood to a foetus. 'Reasonable people will surely agree that a man who deliberately beats a heavily pregnant woman in the belly to kill her child or someone who behaves with criminal negligence towards mother and child has done more than hurt the woman,' Fisher wrote in an email seen by Guardian Australia.

Our present laws ignore the parents’ grief in these circumstances and seem to be telling them their child’s death is unimportant.' Bishop Fisher called fears Zoe’s law would interfere with abortion 'nonsense,' saying it was very specifically directed.

FULL STORY Catholic bishops urge NSW politicians to vote in support of Zoe's law (The Guardian)