Sunday, April 11, 2021

‘I don’t want your vote’: MP hits back at ‘offensive’ abortion critics – InDaily

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A state parliamentarian has hit out at “offensive” and “personal” criticism after she voted to support changes to the state’s abortion laws.

The Termination of Pregnancy Bill passed the Upper House in December with a majority of three in a conscience vote, and is expected to be debated in the House of Assembly later this month.

But the fallout from the Legislative Council decision continues, with SA Best MLC Connie Bonaros yesterday taking to Twitter to call out one correspondent who had written to criticise her support of the legislation.

It would allow an abortion to be performed by one medical practitioner up to 22 weeks and six days gestation, after which a medical practitioner can only perform an abortion after consultation with another practitioner if both agree the procedure is “medically appropriate”.

“If you write to me about abortion and you have the audacity to mention my family then at least have the courage to also provide your name and details so I can respond!” Bonaros tweeted.

“The ‘shame’ is all yours! P.S. I don’t want your vote either.”

Bonaros told InDaily it was the latest of many critical letters she had received, but “I take exception to people getting personal about it”.

She said much of the correspondence received was “not very pleasant”.

“It’s an emotive issue [and] people can be quite firm in their views about telling you what they think,” she said.

“This one was a handwritten note that was sent to me by ‘a former voter’.”

She said the letter referred to her own reference to her “cherished son” in election material, going on to ask how having had the experience of motherhood she could vote against the “God-given gift of life”.

She said it was signed off: “Shame on you – a former voter.”

“I know it’s an emotive issue and people do get fired up, but I won’t tolerate people bringing my family into discussion we have in parliament,” she said.

“We all have a job to do and we’re doing it – you don’t need to make it personal.”

She said the letter was just the latest in a line of correspondence “which has been pretty offensive” and “after a while you get sick and tired of it”.

“I can handle people debating issues on the merits of the case – that’s what we’re paid to do,” she said.

“I’ll pick up the phone, I’ve had these discussions with constituents and I’m happy to engage in civil debate, but when people start making it personal I’m not prepared to tolerate it.

“I’m talking about people who can’t engage in a civilised debate and accept that we’re going to have differing views in here.”

Bonaros says while the debate was a conscience matter, “I don’t think personal, religious or moral views have any place on the floor of the chamber” and she is guided by “what experts tell us”, whether there is a “solid legal foundation” and whether she believes the majority of the community back the decision.

“If those things stack up, I’ll support it,” she said.

“People tend to want to make it about religious views, and your personal and moral stance – and I’m not buying into that… I vote on conscience votes like I vote on anything else,” the former lawyer said.

“It would go against everything that we’re taught as lawyers to do otherwise.”

Unlike some in parliament, Bonaros argues “I don’t think our religious views have a place in these debates”.

“I don’t come in here and spruik my religious views on anything, and I don’t think the general population would deem that acceptable,” she said.

Bonaros is a member of the Greek Orthodox church, which has opposed the Bill.

“This is perhaps the first time the Greek Orthodox church has taken such a tough stand on something debated before parliament,” she said.

“I’m a person of faith, so the religious stuff has been quite overwhelming – people expect if you’re a certain faith you’re going to vote a certain way, and I don’t accept that.

“I know there’s an expectation even from my faith, my church, that I’ll vote a certain way – but I’ve made it very clear I’ll do what I’m paid to do as a politician… I won’t bring religion or personal views into it.”

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