Pro-lifers try to shut down debate, call MP a ‘murderer‘
THURWINGOWA MP Aaron Harper says he's been called a "murderer" and told he will "go to hell" simply for chairing a committee hearing submissions on decriminalising abortion.
Speaking to the Bulletin Mr Harper said a long week of travelling around Queensland listening to opinions on the State Government's proposed pregnancy termination bill had been trying for all members of the Parliamentary health committee.
"I've been called a murderer, I'll be going to hell, judged by God, simply because it's before our health committee, that's from the Right to Lifers," he said.
Mr Harper said the committee heard "tragic cases" from brave women who spoke publicly about their decision to terminate a pregnancy for a variety of reasons.
"There wouldn't have been a person on the committee that wasn't moved by the stories that we've heard," he said.
After hearings in Townsville, Cairns and Brisbane last week the committee will now prepare a report to be tabled to Parliament by October 5.
Mr Harper said he did not want to anticipate the results of the report but believed a previous report by the Queensland Law Reform Commission laid out a clear case for treating pregnancy termination as a health issue.
"The Queensland Law report … states it belongs as a health issue between a woman, her treating specialist and her family," he said.
Mr Harper said he believed LNP leader Deb Frecklington should allow her MPs to have a conscience vote before the report is released.
"Saying you'll wait for the report is a political decision and this issue should be above politics," he said.
Mr Harper said he was also disappointed by the Katter's Australia Party MPs' decision to vote against the bill without considering the public submissions.
"I say to them, you've not listened to your constituents," he said.
"Time and time again in those 10,000 submissions we read from rural and remote Queenslanders that want access to services."
Meanwhile on Friday Townsville Catholic Bishop Tim Harris, who has been a vocal opponent of the bill, emailed residents asking for their "counsel".
In the email, viewed by the Bulletin Bishop Harris said the bill was "uncharted territory" for Queensland.
"Legislation has been introduced that does very little to address access to appropriate reproductive health services, rather it is simply a poorly thought out attempt to push an agenda on behalf of pro-abortion MPs," he said.
Bishop Harris said he was concerned the bill did not mention supporting women "before or after the fact".
But during the Townsville hearing, manager of the counselling service Children By Choice Daile Kelleher said it was not the place of a Government to mandate counselling for every woman.
The proposed bill will allow women to have an abortion on request up to 22 weeks gestation.
It also includes the introduction of "safe access zones" of 150 metres around clinics.