By Jeremy Sollars
Southern Downs State MP James Lister has spoken out in parliament against the Palaszczuk Government’s proposed new abortion laws.
State MPs have been granted a ‘conscience’ vote on the legislation, with the vote expected sometime tomorrow, Thursday 18 October.
The laws have been debated in parliament over the last 48 hours, with some members reduced to tears while telling of their own experiences related to abortion.
Support for the legislation remains split firmly along party lines. No Labor MPs have so far spoken against it and it is expected the bill will pass unless four government MPs cross the floor to oppose it.
Several members of the LNP opposition have said they support the removal of abortion from the 1899 criminal code, but will only support the Palaszczuk Government’s bill if it is watered down.
If passed, Labor’s ‘Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018’ would allow abortion to 22 weeks and thereafter with the permission of two doctors.
It would also enforce 150m ‘safe access zones’ to restrict protesters around termination clinics and remove all reference to abortion from the Queensland Criminal Code.
James Lister spoke on the bill last night, Tuesday, saying no convictions had ever been handed out under the current abortion law in Queensland “in 100 years”, meaning it was effectively legal in Queensland and widely available and therefore questioning the need for any new laws on abortion.
But he said he opposed Labor’s bill, expressing concern over the ability it would give women to obtain ‘late-term’ abortions past 22 weeks of pregnancy, saying such a scenario was “disturbing”.
“We know there is evidence that at 22 weeks, or even at 20 weeks a baby can be viable,” Mr Lister told parliament.
“There was an instance where a pregnant woman was murdered and her killer was convicted on two counts of murder – and in that case the child was at 10 weeks.
“And if a child is stillborn at 22 weeks a death certificate is issued.
“That’s formal recognition that we are talking about a person.”