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10 October 2013 The Hon.

Barry OFarrell NSW Premier Level 40 Governor Macquarie Tower 1 Farrer Place SYDNEY NSW 2000 Dear Premier, Re: Crimes Amendment (Zoes Law) Bill 2013 (No. 2) On behalf of the Womens Health NSW, an association of 21 womens health centres who have been providing specialised services to women for more than 25 years, I write to raise our concern about the abovementioned Private Members Bill which proposes changes to the Crimes Act 1900. The Bill declares that for the purpose of this Bill a foetus of 20 weeks gestation or 400 grams to be a living person for the purpose of grievous bodily harm offences under the NSW Crimes Act. While Womens Health NSW acknowledges the loss of a foetus is a tragedy and the cause of great grief and loss, the ramifications of this Bill for all women in NSW are of great concern. Our concerns are also shared by Family Planning NSW, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, Womens Legal Services NSW and Community Legal Centres NSW. We oppose this Bill for the following reasons The definition of Grievous Bodily Harm in The Crimes Act 1990 was amended in 2005 to include the destruction (other than in the course of a medical procedure) of the foetus of a pregnant women, whether or not the woman suffers any other harm. The current law carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years. The Hon. Michael Campbell, following a review of the legislation, found the law as it currently stands provide this protection and capacity for women. The Bill gives legal personhood to a foetus. Based on what has happened in other jurisdictions, recognising the foetus as an independent person has been the first step towards prosecutions of women where they have been deemed to have acted contrary to the interest of the foetus they are carrying. The Bill has the potential to undermine the reproductive rights of women.

Supporters of this Bill say that it is tightly drafted, that it has nothing to do with reproductive rights, and that it will not interfere with the work of doctors. They say that if a woman consents to treatment, then she and her doctor will not be at risk of criminal charges. The states leading medical associations, AMA and RANZCOG, disagree that the Bill is drafted to do this and have publicly said so. They say this Bill will make the work of doctors and obstetricians and gynaecologists more difficult, and potentially expose doctors to criminal charges. The NSW Bar Association also has concerns about this Bill, calling it unnecessary and highlighting the potential conflict of rights that will arise if a foetus is treated as a person in any context. The Bill, as it stands, is drafted in a way that will almost inevitably interfere with the work of doctors. It takes a definition placed in the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act intended to allow parents to register a stillbirth and transports it to our criminal laws. Reproductive health and medicine has been the focus of Womens Health NSW since its inception. The particular health needs of women are our bread and butter, and this law presents a risk for the women who rely on us. Womens Health NSW cannot support legislation that would give rights to a foetus separate to the rights of the women carrying the foetus medically, legally or ethically. Given our work with women who have been sexually assaulted or have experienced domestic violence we would be the first to support a Bill that adds greater protection to vulnerable women, however this Bill does not do that, instead it weakens an already tenuous situation and will have grave and lasting consequences for women across NSW. For all the above reasons we believe it is paramount that you vote against this legislation. Thank you for your consideration of our request. Should you wish to discuss this matter further please do not hesitate to contact me. Yours sincerely,

Ms Denele Crozier CEO Womens Health NSW