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Lee Rhiannon speaking on gender-selective abortions

Lee Rhiannon 17 Jun 2013

Motions, Monday 17 June 2013

Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (15:40): I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 1244 standing in my name for today related to gender biased sex selection.

Leave granted.

Senator MADIGAN: I move the motion as amended:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i) five United Nations agencies: the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and the World Health Organization, have issued a combined report calling for urgent steps to be taken to address gender-biased sex selection, including:

   (a) the collection of more reliable data on the extent of the problem,

   (b) guidelines on the use of technology,

   (c) supportive measures for girls and women, and

   (d) other legal and awareness-raising actions,

(ii) in its 2010 report the UNFPA states that, according to the 2000 United States Census, immigrants to the United States of America from China, India and the Republic of Korea had a sex ratio at birth almost as skewed as in their countries of origin, and

(iii) at the UN Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) (1994) in Cairo and at the 4th World Congress on Women (1995) in Beijing, Australia committed ‘to enact and enforce legislation protecting girls from all forms of violence ... including prenatal sex selection’;

   (b) condemns the practice of gender-biased sex selection in abortion or infanticide whether in Australia or overseas; and

   (c) encourages the Government to support the recommendations of the interagency statement of the five UN agencies and uphold its commitments to the ICPD 1994 and the 4th World Congress on Women.

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (15:41): Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

The PRESIDENT: Leave is granted for one minute.

Senator RHIANNON: The Australian Greens condemn the practice of gender biased sex selection abortions. We do not support this motion as the tactic behind the motion is to wind back a woman's right to access abortion services. Senator Madigan's motion in part (a)(i) states that various international bodies have called for 'urgent steps' on gender based sex selection. But there has been no such call. What these organisations are calling for is urgent action on the root cause of some preference. It is made clear that this means addressing violence against women and gender inequality and advancing women's human rights. If you vote with Senator Madigan, you are voting for a motion based on inaccurate information. This motion is about stigmatising abortion and should not be supported. It is about stigmatising women who seek an abortion.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Order! The question is that the motion moved by Senator Madigan be agreed to.

The Senate divided. [15:46]

DIVISION:AYES 37 (28 majority) NOES 9 PAIRS 0

Question agreed to.

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