Liberal MPs threaten move to crossbench over abortion amendments

Liberal MPs threaten move to crossbench over abortion amendments

Tanya Davies
Two New South Wales Liberal party MPs are threatening a move to the crossbench if their demands on amendments to a bill to decriminalise abortion are not met.

Conservative Liberal party MPs Tanya Davies and Kevin Conolly, both vocal critics of abortion reform, have told the NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian they will remove themselves from the party room if “essential amendments” are not passed.

The defection of Davies and Conolly would push the NSW Coalition government into a minority government.

“There’s one thing that politicians pay attention to, and that’s numbers,” Davies told a Cathedral Conversations event at St John’s Anglican Cathedral in Parramatta on Monday.

“To win preselection, you need 50 plus 1, to win an election you need 50 plus 1, if you want to win government you need 50 plus 1, at the moment we hold government by 50 plus two,” she said.

“I am one of those two, and there is another colleague of mine, who have told the Premier and the Deputy Premier that if they do not make essential amendments to this bill, we will remove ourselves from the party room.

“This means, we will disconnect ourselves from the leadership of the Liberals and Nationals which means the government goes into minority government.”

On Tuesday, Conolly said the issues has left him in an “untenable position”.

“I am being asked to stand by and watch my own government do something that I do not support,” he said.

The original bill created a standalone healthcare act to regulate the medical procedure, allowing for terminations up to 22 weeks, and after that with the approval of two doctors. It was co-sponsored by 15 MPs from across the political spectrum.

Currently, the upper house is continuing to examine the draft legislation after its passage through the parliament was delayed amid the protests of prominent pro-life MPs.

The legislation had previously passed the lower house 59-31 votes.

MPs opposed to the abortion reform have fought hard to make amendments to the draft legislation.

Specifically, they want provisions removed which require doctors who have a conscientious objection to performing the procedure to refer patients elsewhere.

Opponents have also pushed for a focus on banning gender selective abortion, despite expert medical groups confirming there is no evidence it is an issue in NSW.

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