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Greens stand up for women, while old parties duck for cover on Madigan’s abortion bill

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 29 Jun 2013

Labor and Coalition MPs have failed to stand up for women in a Senate Committee response to Senator John Madigan’s sex-selection abortion bill, designed to limit sexual reproductive rights.

Senator Madigan’s bill removes Medicare funding for abortions procured on the basis of selecting the gender of the child.

“The Greens have recommended the bill not be passed.

“Without clear evidence that sex-selection abortions happen in Australia, this bill is vexatious, unnecessary and little more than a barrow for Senator Madigan to push his anti-abortion views,” said Greens spokesperson for Women Lee Rhiannon.

"This bill demonstrates why a Senate in which the Greens continue to hold the balance of power is essential for women's rights.

“If Senator Madigan holds the balance of power after the election, this bill could have legs and the public deserve to know where Labor and Coalition MPs stand.

“Both Labor and the Coalition shirked responsibility from making any recommendation on this bill in the Senate Committee report. This is despite submissions opposing the bill from groups such as the Public Health Association Australia, Australian Medical Association, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Women’s Legal Services Australia and Reproductive Choice Australia.

“There were 915 submissions made to this Inquiry and 239 form letters. This is huge public response and it is appalling that the Committee would shirk making a recommendation.

“The Australian Greens do not support sex-selection abortions where they do occur but there is no clear evidence that these abortions do occur in Australia. Senator Madigan himself admits it is difficult to get Australian data to support his bill.

“This bill is about whipping up unfounded fear in the community, stigmatising women seeking abortion and forcing abortion law reform appeal onto the political agenda.

“The tactic of chipping away with small restrictions on a woman’s right to choose is one borrowed straight from the songbook of the US anti-choice movement.

“I congratulate Senator Wendy Davis who filibustered in the Texas Senate this week for more than nine hours to try to stave off an anti-abortion bill that would have forced many abortion clinics to close. This is the type of passion and commitment that is needed in the Australian Parliament to ensure that women's rights are protected and upheld", said Senator Rhiannon.

Link to the Senate Committee  Report.

Link to Lee's Second Reading speech.

Contact Senator Rhiannon 0487 350 880

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