This Is What It's Like To Be A Pregnant Politician During Queensland's Abortion Debate
MP Nikki Boyd said she found the debate deeply offensive to women who had terminated pregnancies for devastating foetal anomalies.
Nikki Boyd battled morning sickness each day as she sat in on the parliamentary committee looking into proposed legislation to decriminalise abortion in Queensland.
But the pregnant Labor MP said that wasn't the hardest part of each day.
"As a pregnant woman going through it, it was a different experience in that a lot of the personal stories and experiences you were hearing were about milestones that you were readying for or experiencing," Boyd told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday, just hours before the debate on the proposed legislation.
Many of the women testifying at the committee hearings, which were held around the state, spoke about terminating pregnancies in the second or third trimester for devastating and sometimes fatal foetal anomalies.
"To read about these things is one thing but to hear people speak frankly about their personal tragic circumstances was another," Boyd said.
In Queensland today a termination is only lawful if it is to "prevent serious danger to the woman's physical or mental health".
This week politicians will vote on a bill introduced by the state's government to decriminalise abortion and move the procedure from criminal to health legislation. If passed, abortion will be available up to 22 weeks gestation, after which the patient would require two separate doctors to approve the procedure.
In some hearings Boyd, the MP for Pine Rivers, said she was the only woman sitting on the committee.
"You'd have these women talk about making really tough decisions and then [anti-abortion members of the community would testify] and you'd ask them whether they thought this woman should have been made to carry that baby to full term even though it is deceased or has no chance of survival and the response was always along the lines of 'well these women are murderers'."
Boyd said her office, and those of other Labor MPs including deputy premier Jackie Trad, had been sent a lot of "vitriol" in relation to the proposed bill.
"But I didn't actually think that people would front up to a public hearing of the parliament and testify in such a vitriolic and frankly offensive way," Boyd said.
“We had a woman come in and talk about a fatal diagnosis in the later term of her pregnancy, around the 20-week mark.
“It was the contrast of hearing that story about the ongoing viability of her pregnancy and then people in the same room getting up and saying that abortion was like ‘herding a group of women together and branding them with cattle prods’."
It isn't the first time Boyd's personal situation has allowed her to empathise with women in this debate.
"I was a woman going through a miscarriage," Boyd said, of the last time this issue was debated, when independent MP Rob Pyne introduced bills to decriminalise the procedure in 2016.
She is hopeful the debate over the next few days will remain respectful, despite what she sees as "inaccuracies" and falsehoods perpetuated by anti-abortion groups and politicians.