Zoe's law passes the NSW lower house

21 November 2013 2:02 AM

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Updated: 13:22, Thursday November 21, 2013

The controversial bill known as Zoe's law has passed the NSW lower house after being put to a conscience vote.

It amends the Crimes Act so that a person can be charged with the grievous bodily harm of a fetus that is either 20 weeks old or 400 grams by allowing it to be treated as a living person.

It does not apply to anything done with a pregnant woman's consent or during a medical procedure.

Following weeks of heated and often emotional debate in the lower house, the contentious bill passed on Thursday by 63 votes to 26.

The bill was named in honour of the unborn child of Brodie Donegan, who was hit by a drug-affected driver on Christmas Day in 2009.

Speaking during the debate on Thursday, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said the bill would not change the state's abortion laws.

Mr O'Farrell said laws were not always about deterrence and punishment but also about victims' rights.

'Anyone who has met or heard Brodie Donegan's story could not help but be moved.

Despite Mr O'Farrell's comments, a number of Liberal MPs crossed the floor to vote against the bill, including ministers Jillian Skinner and Pru Goward.

'If anyone needed any more evidence of the true intent of this bill - undermining women's right to choose - they need look no further than the Reverend Fred Nile, who will be introducing it into the upper house,' she said in a statement following the vote.

She said it was 'extremely disappointing' that so many MPs - from both Labor and the Coalition - would vote to support a law that has been opposed by numerous legal and health bodies, including the NSW Bar Association and the Australian Medical Association NSW.

Protesters are expected to gather outside parliament house on Thursday afternoon to voice their opposition to the bill.

Source: skynews.com.au

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