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Smith: Benson-Pope fails first test of law-making

Media Statement For immediate release Thursday, 1 July, 2004

Smith: Benson-Pope fails first test of law-making

Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope's comments on minors having abortions under the Care of Children Bill breach a fundamental tenet of law-making, namely that you don't make laws on the basis of exceptions, United Future's Murray Smith said today.

"And his reference to incest situations is truly exceptional. Last year only two of 17,380 abortions were on the grounds of incest - that is about .01%," he said.

"This minister of all ministers has the gall to start accusing others of running hidden agendas and dealing in disinformation.

"He puts out bogus facts and half-truths as a matter of course on the Bills he is sponsoring. And this overplayed incest claim is just the latest example," he said.

However, the amendment to the Bill proposed by United Future and most other parties would provide for an urgent application to the Family Court in cases where a counsellor or health professional believes that parents should not be told about the pregnancy, Mr Smith, United Future's justice spokesman, said.

"A judge could then decide whether there was enough substance to the girl's wish not to tell her parents to justify taking away the opportunity for support and advice that the vast bulk of parents would want to provide in such circumstances.

"Furthermore, United Future proposed that only one parent would need to be notified so that, in situations of alleged incest by a father, the mother only could be told.

"In most such cases, the mother would then be likely to take action to prevent a recurrence of the crime which would also serve to ensure that such reprehensible behaviour was detected and appropriately handled," Mr Smith said.

Ends.

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