NSW Women’s groups are deeply concerned about the implication for women’s rights of a bill, dubbed “Zoe’s Law”, which will be brought before parliament this week.

The Bill proposes an amendment to the NSW Crimes Act which would create an additional criminal offence for any person who causes the destruction or harm of a foetus of a pregnant woman

Chair of the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia, Melanie Fernandez said NSW women should be deeply concerned that the O’Farrell Government is negotiating away women’s rights.

“On 15 June 2013, Tony Abbott ruled out doing deals with Senators limiting access to abortion.

“Now less than 3 months later The NSW Liberal Party is picking up the slack. Following on from Rev Fred Nile’s ‘Zoe’s Law’ which has been languishing on the NSW legislative agenda for 11 years, Liberal MP Chris Spence has resurrected the legislation and given it a face lift.

Mr Spence has made slight modifications to the wording of the bill but the intent and sentiment should be just as concerning to the people of NSW.

“This bill remains a Trojan Horse for Reverend Nile to run an anti-choice agenda in NSW,” she said.

Ms Fernandez said, “WEL has concern about the Liberal’s track record on women’s reproductive rights at both a State and Federal level. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has in the past made deeply concerning comments about abortion and whilst Health Minister attempted to retain ministerial control over abortion drug, RU486, rather than it being controlled by the Therapeutic Drugs Administration.”

Mr Spence has stated that the current Bill is intended to address a deficiency in current criminal penalties where a foetus is killed as a result of injury to the mother.

F Collective Convenor Georgia Potter Butler said “Whilst this piece of legislation seems relatively innocuous this type of legislation – one that draws a distinction in personhood between a woman and the foetus she is carrying – is only the beginning of granting legal rights to foetuses,”

“These rights have resulted in prosecutions of mothers when it is deemed they have acted contrary to the interests of the “person” they are carrying.

“A woman’s right to make decisions about her body is a fundamental tenant of her human rights. Granting a foetus rights that could infringe on the mother’s is hugely problematic.” said Ms Potter Butler.

“It is a tragedy when any woman loses a foetus in an accident or violent crime. However, our current statutory framework has adequate provisions to deal with these offences, we do not require additional offences regarding foetuses.”

Women’s groups are calling on all members of the NSW Parliament to publicly state they will not be supporting this Bill.

Rachael Lord


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