The Advertiser – Abortion bill debate on Remembrance Day ‘inappropriate’: RSL State president Cheryl Cates

The Advertiser – Abortion bill debate on Remembrance Day ‘inappropriate’: RSL State president Cheryl Cates

2 November 2020

Elizabeth Henson | The Advertiser

Debate on SA abortion laws is scheduled for Remembrance Day, which the RSL as well as MLCs from both parties say is inappropriate.

A plan to debate changes to South Australia’s abortion laws in State Parliament on Remembrance Day is “absolutely inappropriate”, RSL State President Cheryl Cates says.

Human Services Minster Michelle Lensink has advised Upper House members that she wants all speeches on the Termination of Pregnancy Bill to be made on November 11.

Legislative Council protocol dictates that the mover of a Private Members’ Bill, in this case Ms Lensink, can direct when their legislation goes to a vote.

RSL State President Cheryl Cates urged Ms Lensink to reschedule the debate to another day.

“I think it’s absolutely inappropriate,” she said.

“Have a bit of respect for our ex servicemen and women and those who are serving – It’s an inappropriate debate to have on such a significant day on our calendar.”

Ms Cates said “our veterans would be reeling if anything affected or got in the way of them remembering their fallen comrades”.

Past State RSL board member, and former Liberal Schubert MP, Ivan Venning agreed the timing was wrong.

“I find it very disappointing that Parliament would be debating this issue on Remembrance Day,” he said.

“Remembrance Day should be about honouring and remembering our fallen soldiers, and nothing as controversial as this should take focus away from their sacrifice.”

Meanwhile, Labor MLC Clare Scriven and Liberal MLC Nicola Centofanti say debating the bill on November 11 risks politicising the Remembrance Day, “which would be both disrespectful and inappropriate”.

They have joined forced to call on Ms Lensink to push back the speeches until November 25.

“Michelle Lensink’s demand to push through all speeches about the abortion-to-birth bill is

divisive and totally disrespectful to everyone who wants to honour Remembrance Day,” Ms Scriven said.

Ms Centofanti said veterans and their families did not want the importance of Remembrance Day to be obscured by such an emotional issue.

“This Bill was only introduced in the last sitting week – There is no reason for everyone to

have to give their speeches about it on Remembrance Day and it would be insensitive to

community members and members of Parliament who rightfully expect our focus to be on

our war heroes on this day,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Ms Lensink said the Minister had referred the matter to Upper House President John Dawkins.

Mr Dawkins said debate on the bill remained scheduled for November 11 and he would not be taking any action in relation to it, saying it was a matter for the chamber.

“There’s potential for the Government to change it,” he said.

“We’ll see what evolves between now and then.”

It came after SA Liberal Senator Alex Antic last week wrote to all state Liberal MPs and MLCs “to appeal to your sense of decency to vote again against the Bill”, describing it as “brutal and against the Party’s principles”.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman and Ms Lensink hit back in a joint letter, defending the legislation and accusing Mr Antic of “baselessly attacking Liberal Party women in state parliament”.

The Government introduced the Termination of Pregnancy Bill into parliament earlier this month in a bid to decriminalise abortion.

Currently, it is an offence to perform abortions in SA under certain conditions, such as without the approval of two doctors or outside a prescribed hospital.

The Bill would allow terminations to be performed on women less than 22 weeks and six days’ pregnant with the approval of just one doctor, instead of two.

Abortions performed after 22 weeks and six days would be permitted only when two medical practitioners deem it medically appropriate.

The Bill will be dealt with as a conscience vote.

Read the original article here.


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