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Harsher penalties for violence against pregnant women

By Kerces 25 November 2005

Last week Steve Pratt put out a press release lamenting that the new sentencing provisions did not go far enough in protecting unborn children.

Yesterday he applauded the Government for “finally [taking] steps to protect the unborn child in the ACT” with their Crimes (Offences Against Pregnant Women) Amendment Bill 2005, although he did say it should have happened much earlier.

Mr Stanhope said the new legislation made assault against a pregnant woman an aggravated offence and recognised that a woman suffered great harm if she lost a pregnancy. The definition of “grevious bodily harm” is explanded to include the loss of or serious harm to a pregnancy apart from during medical procedures.

The Chief Minister “stressed to the Assembly that the amendments would not change the law with respect to medical procedures and abortions” and said doctors had nothing to fear from this change.

I think that while violence of the kind that is going to harm a pregnancy is abhorent, this is skating on thin ice in relation to abortions and their legality. Sure, the Government may have included words to the effect of “other than in the course of a medical procedure”, but it is only a relatively simple change to remove those words and make it an offence to do anything that causes a woman to lose a pregnancy. And, to me, that is a dark road.

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