Legislation to decriminalise abortion passed the New South Wales Parliament’s lower house last night after a debate in which MPs voted against a move preventing gender-selective terminations. Source: The Daily Telegraph.
The bruising debate for Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who now faces a ministry bitterly divided on the issue, ended with some MPs cheering the passage of the bill just after 11pm, 59 votes to 31.
The vote took place minutes after former women’s minister Tanya Davies told Parliament 300 girls were “missing” in Victoria after similar legislation was adopted there.
Her proposed amendment to explicitly rule out gender selection was defeated, with MPs instead supporting an amendment which expressed disapproval of the practice.
The legislation, which now moves to the upper house, will also be reviewed in 12 months to determine whether more foetuses of a particular gender are being terminated.
Ms Davies pointed to a recent study from La Trobe University in Melbourne which she said showed “sound evidence of distorted sex ratios in births in Victoria for the children of mothers born in China and India”.
“In fact there are over 300 missing girls in Victoria due to sex selection before birth in the Indian, Chinese and South East Asian migrant communities between 2011 and 2015,” Ms Davies said.
She said the research pointed to “abortion following the identification by ultrasound of the sex of the unborn child as female as the primary mechanism by which the cultural preference for a male child is given effect. If one little girl, a toddler, were to go missing today … we would mobilise all our resources and try to desperately find her”.
Attorney-General Mark Speakman opposed Ms Davies’ amendment over a lack of detail, but said it was something he would like to see addressed in legislation.
Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher said he is “deeply saddened” the bill passed the lower house and described it as “abhorrent”, SBS News reports.
“If a civilisation is to be judged by how it treats its weakest members, New South Wales failed spectacularly today,” the Archbishop said in a statement last night.
“I urge the Members of the Legislative Council (upper house) to vote against this abhorrent bill.”
Bill passes lower house: Abortion based on sex to be legal in NSW (The Daily Telegraph)