‘Zoe’s Law’ conscience vote could happen tomorrow
A conscience vote on a controversial law that would make it a crime to kill an unborn child could happen tomorrow with members of the Liberal party frantically working to ensure they have the numbers for majority support.
It's understood Premier Gladys Berejiklian has not issued an edict for the conscience vote to be blocked and expects the bill will be listed for debate tomorrow in the Upper House.
The "Zoe's Law" bill was introduced by Upper House MP Reverend Fred Nile and needs to be debated and voted on in both houses of parliament to become a reality.
The law would make it an offence to harm or kill an unborn child from 24 weeks gestation.
Supporters of the law say amendments have been included to protect abortion rights.
Ms Berejiklian said she is committed to introducing her own laws in 2019 that will address this issue - but in the meantime her MPs will be allowed to conscience vote on Zoe's Law.
A month ago The Daily Telegraph revealed Ms Berejiklian has sought legal advice on how to address the issue.
"These new laws will not affect existing laws on abortion," she said.
"In the meantime, Government members will be permitted to exercise a conscience vote on the Zoe's Law Bill introduced by Reverend Nile."
Zeo's Law has been bouncing around Parliament House for five years and has always stalled before it became legislation.
Senior Liberals in the government have been agitating to have the law passed in the final fortnight of parliament before the March election.
They have seized on a groundswell of support for such legislation after the tragic death of unborn twin boys and their mother in a car crash in September in Orchard Hills.
The hard-right faction of the party is behind the push and members are doing the numbers to get support for the controversial legislation.
It's understood the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers are on board and that Labor will also allow a conscience vote.
During a meeting tonight the bill needs to be put on tomorrow's agenda for the Upper House so it can be debated and voted on.
Agitators had been calling for Ms Berejiklian to intervene to ensure this happens but it's understood she made it clear she doesn't want to stop it.
If the debate doesn't happen on Thursday than there is not enough time to put the legislation through both houses meaning it will be delayed until after the March election.
Advocates for the law change include two mothers who lost their unborn daughters during horror car crashes in NSW.
Reverend Nile first introduced the law in 2013 as "Zoe's law" in honour of Brodie Donegan's daughter.
Ms Donegan told The Daily Telegraph while she never gave Reverend Nile permission to name the law after her daughter she supports the principal of the legislation.
At 32 weeks pregnant Ms Donegan lost her daughter when her car was hit by a drug driver on Christmas Day in 2009.
Ms Donegan, 38, has been lobbying for eight years to change the law.
"If it doesn't happen now than it won't happen until after the next accident when everyone remembers how crap it is and there's another groundswell."
Ms Donegan is joined in her lobbying by Jacqueline Sparks who was 32 weeks pregnant in 2013 when she was involved in a car crash that took the life of her daughter Mia.
She is in the same circle of friends as Bronco Hoang who's pregnant wife and unborn twin boys died in late September after a tragic car crash in Orchard Hills.
The deaths of Mr Hoang's wife Katherine and their sons sparked renewed calls for a law that would hold someone legally accountable if their actions took an unborn child's life.
Ms Sparks said Mr Hoang support the law.
"At the moment he is not feeling able to make any public comments in regards to this but … he wants to get it passed," she said.
"Brodie and mine and Bronco's (loss) - they're progressively getting worse, does it need to be quadruplets for the Premier to do something? Everyone wants it passed so do it."
Ms Sparks, 31, had to have a hysterectomy due to the injuries she suffered in the car crash and while the driver was charged over the crash Mia's death was only included as an "injury" to her mother.
"Criminally he was never recognised or held accountable for the loss of her life," she said.
"Mia was by first and only … I don't get another shot. For Mia to be listed as an injury is not fair. It doesn't make sense to me that I had to go through a funeral for her, a birth certificate … but charges can't be laid to actually recognise my daughter's life."
Ms Sparks said the law's link to Reverend Nile made people fear it was religiously motivated or anti-abortion.
"It's nothing to do with that, when you take the time to read the bill it clearly states that it's in regards to the criminal act of harm or destruction of a foetus more than 24 weeks, nothing to do with medical (procedure)."
Ms Sparks called on politicians to "stop passing the buck" and finally make the laws a reality.
"How many more times does this have to happen?"