Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said that 26 September will be remembered as a “dark day for NSW” as the Abortion Law Reform Bill 2019 passed the NSW Legislative Assembly making it law in the state.
Lower house MPs accepted the amendments just after 10am today which had been passed by the Legislative Council last night, concluding one of the most contentious and passionate parliamentary and community debates in history.
The bill will remove abortion from the Crimes Act and make terminations available on request up to 22 weeks and up to birth with the sign-off of two doctors.
“The new abortion law is a defeat for humanity,” Archbishop Fisher said in a statement.
“[It] may be the worst law passed in New South Wales in modern times, because it represents such a dramatic abdication of responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.
“Since the abolition of capital punishment in New South Wales in 1955, this is the only deliberate killing ever legalised in our state.”
“Please pray for the conversion particularly of those parliamentarians who claim to be of Catholic or other Christian faith and yet supported this appalling law.
“Pray and work for better leaders. Pray for our state as it enters this deadly new territory. Pray above all for the safety of unborn babies and their mothers in NSW — for we ‘Love Them Both’.”
The passing of the abortion bill is devastating news for women and children in the state say pro-life advocates.
“This is a sad day for NSW,” said Dr Rachel Carling, CEO of NSW Right to Life. “This bill was not passed in our name. Right to Life NSW will continue to fight against the scourge of abortion in this state – our protest on this bill has only just begun.”
Dr Carling said that while it was “devastating news for women and child in this state” she wanted to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of the politicians who fought the extreme bill.
“I would like to commend the upper house MLCs for representing us in the chamber,” she said.
“While the amendments they were able to achieve were small, they were significant.
We will not forget, we will remember.”
Director of LifeChoice Australia Rebecca Gosper said it was “a devastating outcome for women and children in New South Wales”.
“Surely in today’s society we should be focused on providing women with the real support and love they need to be able to continue a pregnancy, not promoting abortion as their only option,” she said.
“Women and children deserve so much better.”
The bill passed the NSW Legislative Council in a vote of 14-26 late on 25 September.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said he was “deeply saddened” that the bill had made it through the upper house and had urged people to call their local member for parliament this morning.
“I had hoped that as the weeks passed since the Bill’s rushed introduction, its terrible realities would have become evident,” he posted on social media as the news emerged last night.
Crucial amendments rejected
Archbishop Fisher pointed out that the Act, as passed by both Houses of Parliament was subject to a number of amendments debated over many days, “but the amendments allowed do not make women or their unborn babies any safer, nor protect the conscience rights of medical professionals, nor provide distressed pregnant women with any support or alternatives to abortion”.
“I thank those Members of Parliament who spoke so eloquently in favour of women and children and against this law and the process that led to it, and who worked tirelessly on amendments to make this bad law a little better,” he said.
“I also thank the tens of thousands of people who attended rallies, maintained a vigil outside Parliament House even in heavy rain, contacted their local members, made submissions to the committee inquiry, or prayed that this law might not pass.
“Your efforts have not been in vain, nor can they come to an end. None of us will forget what has happened this month.”
Steven Buhagiar, the team leader of the Sydney archdiocese’s Life, Family and Outreach Office, said the final result was disappointing as it showed there had not been the necessary movement against the bill despite weeks of an outpouring of concern from the community including thousands of people attending pro-life rallies and vigils and many more emailing, calling and visiting their local MPs since 1 August.
“One of the last amendments voted on was to ban the sale of foetal body parts,” he said.
“The failure of that to pass really brings to the fore the travesty of justice that has occurred.”
“However it was heartening to see that those who opposed the bill did all they could and were diligent in every way to get the best possible outcome for unborn women and their mothers,” he said.
A proposed amendment to require use of painkillers for a foetus from 20 weeks gestation during an abortion was also defeated on the final day of upper house debate, while one placing greater restrictions on abortion after 22 weeks was passed.
Archbishop Fisher said that even though abortion on demand up to birth has been formally legalised in this state, the Catholic Church’s commitment to support all human life will continue.
“Care for pregnant women, new mothers and their babies will still be available through Church agencies and pro-life organisations,” he said.
“The Catholic Church, other Christian churches, people of other faiths and women and men of goodwill will continue to work together to turn our culture around, so that every vulnerable woman and baby is supported and abortion becomes unthinkable.
“We can still put an end to the scourge of abortion in this state by making it unnecessary, no matter what the law says.”