Barnaby’s impassioned anti-abortion speech

 

Barnaby Joyce has slammed a push to decriminalise abortion, arguing no parliament has the right to classify his son Tom as "sub human".

The former deputy prime minister unleashed on the push to decriminalise abortion in NSW in an impassioned speech before Question Time today.

"On the 1st of June, Vikki's and my son Tom took his first breath. This was not the start of his life," Mr Joyce told Parliament.

"The reality is he was part of this world for some time and was merely passing from one room to another."

Mr Joyce argued no parliament had power to classify someone as "sub human" and that his son attained indivisable human rights "long before he was born".

"They should not be removed by a parliament. He committed no crime," the former Nationals leader said, adding that the hour of birth was "an arbitrary point in modern medicine".

Barnaby Joyce has made an impassioned anti-abortion speech. Picture: Kym Smith.
Barnaby Joyce has made an impassioned anti-abortion speech. Picture: Kym Smith.

It comes as a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW went before the state's parliament today.

Mr Joyce is a father of six. Tom is his second son with partner Vikki Campion.

"Inside the womb, Tom kicked, punched, grabbed his umbilical cord, felt pain, slept and dreamed," Mr Joyce told Parliament today.

"With ultrasound, he most certainly was seen in real human form.

"To say he didn't have the rights of other human life is to say he must be sub-human."

Mr Joyce added: "I don't believe that any person, any doctor, any parliament has the power today to classify another person as less than human and by so doing removing their fundamental right to be alive."

Alex Greenwich, the independent Sydney MP behind the push to decriminalise abortion in NSW, apologised to women for it taking "so long" to change the law in his state as he introduced the bill to the lower house this morning.

"I am sorry it has taken so long to achieve this reform," Mr Greenwich told parliament.

"Let's not delay any more. Now is the time for the parliament to come together to ensure women and their doctors are appropriately protected under the law."

The private member's bill - which has 15 co-sponsors from across the political divide - allows for terminations up to 22 weeks and later, if two doctors "consider that, in all the circumstances, the termination should be performed".

Barnaby Joyce referred to his baby son while making his plea. Picture Kym Smith
Barnaby Joyce referred to his baby son while making his plea. Picture Kym Smith

Mr Greenwich said the bill was 119 years overdue, with women and doctors operating under an "out of date law".

The law criminalising abortion hasn't changed since 1900 - a time when women couldn't vote and when there were no women in NSW parliament. "Now, not only can women vote and stand for office, our state has a female premier, a female leader of the opposition and a female governor," he said. "Women have fought long and hard for this reform, over many, many decades." The independent MP said the bill recognises the best outcomes in women's reproductive health care are achieved when abortion is treated as a health matter rather than a criminal one.

 

The draft law was designed in consultation with the Australian Medical Association, which says it will ensure access to appropriate care for women. Before the bill was presented, about 200 people picketed outside NSW Parliament at an anti-abortion 'Rally for Life'.

Many held signs saying "pregnant women need support not abortion" and "we love life on both sides of the womb".

Liberal MP Nathaniel Smith said he was "disgusted" at how the bill was "rammed" through parliament.

"This is not an issue like a hip replacement, a nose job, a fake tan - this is a human being," he told the rally.

"This will not protect women, this should not be going into the Health Care Act, it should remain in the Crimes Act." Finance Minister Damien Tudehope earlier on Thursday attacked the bill as "unjust" in an opinion piece published in The Sydney Morning Herald. The Liberal MP claims the bill will make abortion legal in NSW "all the way up to birth, with no meaningful restrictions whatsoever" and "the community won't stand for it".

The draft legislation also gives doctors the right to conscientiously object to performing abortions, but they must refer patients to another health practitioner who can provide the service.

The bill, which has been backed by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, was originally scheduled to be debated this week, but conservative MPs worked behind the scenes to delay debate until next Tuesday.

It has sparked backlash from anti-abortion advocates, including church groups, but is believed to have wide cross-party support.