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The New NSW Minister For Women Is Anti-Abortion Rights

"I can’t think of a single minister for women who has been anti-choice, except for maybe Tony Abbott."

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On the day of her appointment as the new NSW minister for women, Tanya Davies told media she was "pro-life".

Dan Himbrechts / AAPIMAGE

"Personally, I am pro-life... but in my role I am there to support all women and I will support all women," Davies said, soon after she was appointed by new premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Abortion is still listed as a crime in NSW but is possible in cases where it would be detrimental to a woman's health to go ahead with the pregnancy.

Berejiklian was quick to clarify that there would be no changes to existing law in NSW under her leadership. "I believe the current arrangements have widespread community support," she said.

A spokesperson for Davies told BuzzFeed News that Davies was not available today, tomorrow, or for the rest of the week to answer questions because she needed to be "briefed", so we looked at her parliamentary record for clues on how the new minister for women might approach reproductive rights. Here's what we found.

She voted for foetal personhood.


In 2013, right-wing Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Fred Nile introduced a bill that would recognise a foetus as a legal person, separate from its mother.

The legislation was named "Zoe's Law" in honour of Sydney woman Brodie Donegan who was hit by a drug-affected driver in 2009. Her unborn child, named Zoe, died at 32 weeks. The driver could not be charged with Zoe's death but was charged with grievous bodily harm to Donegan.

The bill passed, with the help of Davies' vote, through the NSW lower house.

But the legislation was ultimately defeated after community backlash over the potentially restrictive effect that declaring a foetus a "legal person" could have on abortion. Legal and health experts and bodies such as the NSW Bar Association and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists condemned the bill.

But Davies insisted at the time that the bill had nothing to do with abortion. "This bill is about protecting the rights of women to carry their child to full term," she said.

Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi, who has introduced a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW, told BuzzFeed News, "I am concerned about [Davies'] voting record on things like the foetal personhood law, which lawyers and doctors said would have radically influenced the law and further eroded abortion rights in NSW".

"I can’t think of a single minister for women who has been anti-choice, except for maybe Tony Abbott," she said.

Davies believes human life "begins at conception".

Dan Peled / AAPIMAGE

"I believe that human life begins at conception; a life that wherever possible should be nurtured to fulfil his or her full destiny," Davies said in a speech to the lower house in May 2013.

This belief is the basis on which many religious opponents mount a case against abortion.

Abortion is a sin in most major religions. The Vatican, for example, ruled that human life must be recognised from the "moment of conception" and given the "rights of a person".

Many of the opposing submissions to the recent parliamentary inquiry into a bill to decriminalise abortion in Queensland cited religious beliefs about life beginning at conception.

She thanked Fred Nile for "upholding the Judeo-Christian values of our society".

Tanya Davies / Via

Last year, Davies congratulated Nile for his "35 years of service" to the NSW parliament and thanked him for "upholding the Judeo-Christian values of our society".

Nile has previously called for a law to ban women from topless bathing and has suggested Muslim women shouldn't be allowed to wear traditional dress in public.

He also believes women should be stay-at-home parents rather than handing over their kids to "day orphanages" (childcare centres).

Apart from introducing "Zoe's Law" in 2015, he also flagged a series of bills he planned to introduce that would restrict abortion rights. One sought to prohibit an abortion where there was a "detectable heartbeat".

Another tried to make it compulsory for doctors to tell women that an abortion would cause the foetus pain and to undergo counselling and view an ultrasound of their unborn child.

"Fred Nile is not a friend to reproductive rights," National Foundation for Australian Women Social Policy Committee chair Marie Coleman told BuzzFeed News.

"But let us try to give [Davies] the benefit of the doubt because abortion legislative reform is a very complicated issue and she will need to get her head around it."

Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Gina Rushton at

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