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Health Minister gets it wrong on pregnancy counselling.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Democrats Senator for South Australia Australian Democrats spokesperson for Status of Women

Dated: 20 August 2006 Press Release Number: vhdyqqxz Portfolio: Status of Women

Health Minister gets it wrong on pregnancy counselling

The Health Minister is, at best, confused and, at worst, deliberately misleading the public on the purpose of a Private Member's Bill to ensure transparency in the advertising of pregnancy counselling services, according to the Australian Democrats.

Democrats' Spokesperson for the Status of Women, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, who sponsored the bill, said both of Minister Abbott's allegations about the bill - made this morning on the Insiders program - were incorrect.

"Minister Abbott said the bill will stop funding going to pro-life pregnancy counselling organisations, and force pro-life organisations to refer for abortions," Senator Stott Despoja said.

"Both these claims are wrong. The bill will simple ensure that 'pro-life' pregnancy counselling organisations are upfront about their stance and indicate whether or not they refer for abortions in their advertising. Women have a right to know what sort of organisation they are contacting.

"The only organisations that will face penalties will be those that engage in misleading and deceptive advertising. No organisation will be forced to refer for abortions. Under the legislation, they will have to declare whether or not they do refer for terminations.

"This is about truth in advertising and whether women have the right to full information when they contact an organisation for advice in relation to an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, at what can be an emotional time.

"Currently, a number of pro-life pregnancy counselling organisations - including those which receive Federal Government funding - give the impression in their advertising that they provide objective information on all three pregnancy options (keeping the child, adoption and termination) when in fact they are anti-abortion.

"This is unacceptable and my bill will put an end to this misleading and deceptive practice," Senator Stott Despoja said.