What will the New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, be remembered for when her political term is finally over? The much-feted —but overly expensive—Sydney light rail project, her handling of COVID-19, sleeping around with aka ‘dodgy-Darryl’ or facilitating the introduction of some of the most progressive abortion reforms in the Western world?
For myself, I just can’t figure her out as she has all the political principle of a weather vane. Just take the announcement by Berejiklian and the Attorney General, Mark Speakman which seeks to strengthen the law regarding The Crimes Legislation (Offences Against Pregnant Women) Bill:
- Amendments to the Crimes Act 1900 to provide a specific circumstance of aggravation for offences committed against a pregnant woman, which causes the loss of an unborn child. The maximum prison sentence for the offence will be increased by an additional three years, specifically recognising the pregnancy loss.
- Expanding the eligibility for making a Victim Impact Statement to the immediate family members of a pregnant woman whose unborn child was lost, and enabling family members to express the impact of the loss on them. The statements are taken into account by the court when sentencing offenders.
- Criminal procedure amendments allowing the name of an unborn child lost as a result of a criminal offence to be included on an indictment in the particulars of a criminal charge. The indictment is the information about the alleged offence and is read out in court.
- Allowing grieving families to receive funeral expenses where an unborn child is lost as a result of a motor accident.
While I fully support this proposed piece of legislation, both the philosophical and ethical inconsistency being undertaken here is quite simply, breath-taking. Either a baby (in utero) should be recognised as a human being from conception—subject to all the legal rights and protections therein—or they are merely a biological appendage to a woman’s body.
Note, in particular, the language of the baby being explicitly referred to as an “unborn child” and not a ‘fetus’. What’s more, if “an unborn child is lost as a result of a motor accident” then families are to receive funeral expenses.
So, let me get this straight? On the one hand, a woman in NSW can terminate her unborn child right up until the moment of delivery—for no penalty—but Berejiklian and Speakman are moving that it be a criminal offence if someone in a motor car does it?
Mark Powell is Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.
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