Australia

Berejiklian open to gender selection abortion ban

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian supports the decriminalisation of abortion. Source: AAP

The New South Wales Premier has responded to concerns legalisation of abortion in the state could lead to people having terminations motivated by gender selection.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has opened the door to explicitly banning abortions based on gender if it will help ease community concerns.

Some MPs - including coalition ministers - raised the issue during debate on draft laws to decriminalise abortions in NSW. The private members' bill, which passed the lower house last week, will be examined by a parliamentary committee before being considered in the upper house.

 Ms Berejiklian, who is in Europe on a trade mission, said the state's chief obstetrician had advised her that sex selection terminations were "not an issue in NSW".

Anti-abortion protesters gather outside NSW Parliament.
AAP

"But if there is more we need to do to actually allay concerns of the community of course we will," she told reporters in London overnight on Wednesday.

She encouraged upper house MPs to consider "strengthening" the bill to address the issue, saying she would be "more than comfortable" with it.

"Everybody regards that as an abhorrent practice," Ms Berejiklian said."This is a black and white issue. The people of NSW, the parliamentarians of NSW do not support sex selection abortions."

The first public hearing for the inquiry into the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill is being held on Wednesday.
Religious leaders will be among those giving evidence, including Sydney's Catholic and Anglican archbishops, as well as Jewish, Maronite and Coptic Orthodox representatives.

Parents could abort to play video games: Rabbi

A leading Jewish rabbi has linked a bill to decriminalise abortions in NSW to the reported death of a baby who was allegedly left alone for a week in South Korea while her parents were drinking and playing computer games.

Nochum Schapiro, president of the Rabbinical Council of Australia, was among other religious leaders on Wednesday to front a state parliamentary inquiry into the draft laws, which passed the lower house last week.

The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill allows terminations up to 22 weeks, as well as later abortions, if two doctors considering all the circumstances agree the termination should occur.

Members of NSW's lower house erupt into cheers as the bill to decriminalise abortion passed the lower house.
Tiwtter

Rabbi Schapiro claimed the bill was written in a way that allows for abortions "for whatever reason the parents want".

"Anyone would be appalled, when you read a headline like I saw, a seven-month-old baby died after her parents allegedly left her alone for a week while they drank and played computer games," he told the pubic hearing.

"This bill would allow in extremities, people to abort to be able to do things of that nature - that is unconscionable."

He later clarified he was not saying women decide to have abortions because of "playing video games" but was referring to a news article where parents left a baby to do so.

"What I'm saying is, that at the extremities, if you allow something carte blanche, you will have people doing things that we all are appalled with".

The article he referred to was published in The Korea Herald in June.

Thousands of people have made submissions to the upper house committee examining the private members' bill since Friday, the hearing was told.

The committee must report back their findings by August 20.

The bill will then go to the Legislative Council for consideration and a vote.

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