Catherine Cusack.
Catherine Cusack. The Northern Star Archives

Why Lennox Head politician changed her mind on abortion

LENNOX Head resident and Liberal MLC Catherine Cusack has backflipped on a previous stance she held and voted to pass laws decriminalising abortion in NSW.

The contentious Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill removes abortions from the Criminal Act, and cleared its final hurdle on its third reading at the NSW Parliament, after what's been described as a marathon debate last night.

The bill was passed in the Lower House this morning.

Her support for the bill was, as she admitted to her colleagues, a change of heart on her behalf.

"I advise the House that I have changed my position on the bill," she said.

"As I have previously discussed, my situation is a complex one.

"I do not understand the certainty and the zealotry on both sides of the argument. I have felt very much at sea on this issue for my whole life, but the amendments have significantly improved the bill."

On her intervention in the NSW parliament, Cusack said decriminalising abortion and removing it from the Crimes Act is "what the public want and is a very healthy step for the women in this State".

"I will not restate the reservations that I have, particularly in relation to the 20-22 weeks (late abortions)," she added.

An amendment from NSW Finance Minister Damien Tudehope on late-term abortions after 22 weeks in the case of an emergency to save the life of the mother or another foetus was passed 23-17.

The bill was passed 26 votes to 14, with members clapping as the vote went through.

All MPs were given a conscience vote in the Lower House and the bill passed 59 to 31, with 19 Liberal MPs voting against it.