Gladys in damage control on abortion bill
PREMIER Gladys Berejiklian is under siege with her own party warning that her backdown on gender-selection abortion was "too little too late" to quell the anger against her and the senior MPs who drafted the legislation.
It's understood Ms Berejiklian, who is in England on a trade mission, has grown increasingly worried about the backlash to the Bill at home that would decriminalise abortion in NSW.
It comes after members of her own cabinet expressed concerns the "rushed" legislation would open the floodgates to abortion for any reason including sex-selective terminations up to 22 weeks.
The issue dominated a NSW upper house inquiry into the proposed laws on Wednesday, with religious leaders telling parliament they were left dumbfounded when lower house MPs voted against an amendment to prevent the abhorrent practice.
Instead, MPs supported a motion noting a disapproval of gender selection and requiring the health ministry to review and report back on the topic within a year.
The abortion issue is so contentious that it caused the NSW parliament website to crash, with the inquiry receiving about 13,000 submissions since Friday.
Archbishop Najarian from Ms Berejiklian's Armenian Church was scheduled to give evidence according to a draft hearing schedule seen by The Daily Telegraph but pulled out at the last minute.
A spokesman for Ms Berejiklian claimed she did not know why the Archbishop failed to attend.
Ms Berejiklian has opened the door to a new amendment in the Crimes Act to make gender selection abortions illegal in NSW and has invited the upper house to look at strengthening protections.
But Liberal MLC Matthew Mason-Cox said it was too late for concessions given the numerous problems with the legislation.
He has called on Ms Berejiklian to park the Bill and immediately establish a joint parliamentary committee with an independent chair to properly explore the issue.
"She let this happen so you can't turn around on your heel and say, maybe you could fix it in the upper house," he said.
"We were told there would be no amendments from day one by (Health Minister) Brad Hazzard, who was effectively the mover of the Bill.
"Suddenly there's a whole raft of amendments … then after the Bill is passed the Premier acknowledged it has defects."
On Wednesday night Ms Berejiklian called for her colleagues to be respectful of one another. "There is no doubt that emotions run high as they do with these issues. I'm looking forward to the debate continuing but I'm also looking forward to everybody respecting each other's views."
RELIGIOUS LEADERS SHOW NO FAITH IN ABORTION BILL
An eminent Jewish rabbi has issued an extraordinary warning on abortion reform claiming the proposed legislation will be a "blotch on society" and lead to "unconscionable" deeds.
Rabbi Nochum Schapiro from the Rabbinical Council of Australia yesterday linked the Bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW with the reported death of a South Korean baby who allegedly starved while her parents drank and played video games.
He was among several religious leaders to front an upper house inquiry exploring whether terminations should be removed from the state's 119-year-old criminal code.
"A seven-month-old baby died after their parents allegedly left her alone for a week while they drank and played computer games," he said.
"This bill would allow in extremities people to abort to be able to do things of that nature - that is unconscionable."
Greens MLC Abigail Boyd and Labor MLC Greg Donnelly shared a fiery exchange over the issue after Ms Boyd said she didn't believe women would have abortions to play video games.
Sydney's Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher said there should be increased scrutiny on abortion procedures which "we've got rather too used to".
"It's estimated at least 30,000 abortions occur every year in this state, more than 80 a day," Archbishop Fisher said.
"I'd like the laws applied more than they've been but the reality is these are not used against women in desperate situations."