Zoe’s Law proponents caught out by ICAC

Written by Liz Barrett.

Anti-abortion Zoe’s Law is back on the table in NSW.

This bill will import the concept of foetal personhood to New South Wales from the anti-choice American Right. Foetal personhood laws seek to take control of women’s bodies and reproductive rights. This criminalises, institutionalises and strips women of their liberty and the right to control their own body. Premier Mike Baird has indicated he wants the Bill to be debated soon, and finalised before the end of the year. But major political supporters of this legislation are now being investigated for corruption, raising questions over the place of moralising in political debates. As noted by Kirsty Needham in The Age, three major supporters of the Foetal Personhood Bill (Zoe’s Law) have all been investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) including Chris Spence, Chris Hartcher and Marie Ficarra.

Chris Spence: No Back-Up – Computer Crashes on Alibi

Chris Spence is the former Liberal MP for the Entrance. He originally introduced Zoe’s Law into Parliament on behalf of his constituent Brodie Donegan who tragically lost her unborn child after being hit by a drug affected driver. Spence’s office was raided in September 2013 after he was accused of taking illegal donations from property developers channeled through a Liberal slush fund. Spence argued that the funds had come from working as a “freelance political consultant”. However, during the inquiry Spence said he could not produce any documentation to support these claims as his computer hard drive had broken. Spence resigned from the Liberal Party in February 2014 and currently sits on the cross benches. Due to the ongoing ICAC investigations he will not contest his seat in the March 2015 election. Spence was deeply critical of opponents of Zoe’s Law. In NSW Parliament he labelled arguments that Zoe’s Law would restrict women’s access to abortions as “sensationalist statements and scaremongering”.

Marie Facarra: My Dog Ate My Homework!

MP Marie Facarra has also been accused of accepting illegal donations from property developers. She is currently suspended from the Liberal Party and sits on the cross benches. Facarra is responsible for spawning a contender for the most amusing headline ever (“my schnauzer made me do it”) after blaming her changing testimony at ICAC on the sickness of her Miniature Schnauzer, Liesel. Ficarra introduced Zoe’s Law to the Upper House despite having a professional working background in women’s health. Terrigal MP Chris Hartcher has been accused of being the Mastermind behind the sham company Eightbyfive that was used to channel illegal donations to Liberal politicians.Hartcher resigned from Cabinet after his offices were raided in 2013 and will retire from politics at the next election. Another vociferous proponent of Zoe’s Law, Hartcher labelled the NSW Bar Association “unconscionable” for their opposition to the Bill. With neither major party willing to take a position on Zoe’s Law, both the ALP and Liberal Party have let their members take a “conscience vote” on the Bill. As the term implies, conscience votes tend to be about sticky ethical or moral issues.

Given that so many of NSW’s politicians have been found to be lacking in the morals department (so far 12 politicians have resigned or been stood aside due to ICAC), this is frightening. Further, how Zoe’s law will be interpreted is a matter of legal fact and should not be reduced to moral speculation.

The NSW Bar Association has been clear that adoption of the Bill would have implications for late term abortions, and would likely lead to further restrictions. As noted by the NSW Society for LaborLawyers “onceParliament has declared a foetus to be a living person in one context, there is every likelihood that the notion of a foetus as an “unborn child” would flow over into legal scenarios”. Similar concerns have been raised by a range of legal and medical professional organisations including the Australian Medical Association and the Law Society of NSW. In the United States, foetal personhood laws have been used to restrict women’s access to abortion and criminally prosecute women who were considered to be a threat to the wellbeing of their foetus. Bestowing ‘personhood’ on foetuses over 20 weeks (as Zoe’s Law seeks to do), opens up a legal minefield that will prevent women from accessing medical services that they need or desire. Such an important decision should not be dictated by moral politicking.

Snap Action

Join us outside Parliament House this Thursday 13 November 2014 9:30am. PLACE: Legislative Council Gallery, NSW Parliament House Sydney DATE: 13 November 2014 TIME: 9:30am WEAR: Purple to support women’s rights

One Response to “Zoe’s Law proponents caught out by ICAC”
  1. Reblogged this on Citizens, not serfs and commented:
    Having spent half an hour trying to post a comment on this article, using WordPress, Facebook and Google, and either being booted out of each account, or told – error -we cannot post your comment, I have re-blogged the article and put my comment here.
    Remember Ceausescu’ s Decree 770? That is where foetal personhood leads. Permalink: http://taknbsorbemwon5.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/have-the-propo…are-aiming-for/

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