Zoe's Law Crime Amendments

Frustrated by the tabling of the Zoe’s Law Crime Amendments Bill, Abigail spoke firmly against this regressive proposal that would infringe on the rights of women and those with uteruses to make decisions about their own body.

Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (18:03): On behalf of the Greens, I speak in debate on the Crimes Amendment (Zoe's Law) Bill 2019, versions of which have been brought to this House by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and others over the past eight years or so. During my contribution I will talk about this bill specifically. I appreciate the comments of the Hon. Taylor Martin, but I am not speaking on other bills on this topic. The bill is unnecessary and inappropriate. In 2005 the Crimes Act was amended to change the definition of "grievous bodily harm". That definition now includes: 

… the destruction (other than in the course of a medical procedure) of the foetus of a pregnant woman, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm …

The offence of grievous bodily harm is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and 25 years if intentionally caused. It is not correct to claim that there are no consequences for the destruction of a fetus. It is considered in the context of injury to the pregnant person involved. Looking at the injury to the fetus as a separate issue is not warranted.

The bill is a clear attempt to undermine women's rights by changing the legal status quo. The bill seeks to set a dangerous precedent regarding women's health and the right of an individual to choose. The dangers of this change cannot be underestimated—it could be used to impose restrictions on the behaviour of pregnant people. The exemption for medical procedures, or with the mother's consent, is open to various interpretations and could have unintended consequences. Particularly anything that puts unwanted and invasive scrutiny on people experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth or fetal harm could cause enormous harm to a woman and must be avoided. The legislative change would elevate the impact on the fetus over and above the impact of a criminal act on a pregnant person. It would allow an unacceptable encroachment on women's reproductive rights.

Leading women's health organisations and legal organisations such as the Australian Medical Association and the New South Wales Bar Association are steadfastly opposed to the bill. The loaded and subjective language used in the bill—for example, references such as "unborn child" and "prenatal offspring"—is clearly designed to force a conceptual change to impact on other areas, such as legality of and accessibility to abortion. The title of the bill speaks volumes: The request by Brodie Donegan not to use Zoe's name as an anti‑abortion measure has been ignored by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile in favour of adding further emotion to what is already a very emotional subject. The Greens do not support the bill and do not want to see it brought here again by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. Therefore, The Greens move the following amendment. I move:

That the question be amended by omitting all words after "That" and inserting instead "the bill be read this day six months".

Read the full transcript on Hansard here.

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