From the background section of the Senate Committee Minority Report:
The Minority Report points out three major areas of misinterpretation of the Bill, each of which is detailed and refuted.
The aim of Transparent Advertising and Notification of Pregnancy Counselling Services Bill 2005 (to be referred to as 'the bill' from here on after) is to regulate pregnancy counselling services to prevent misleading or deceptive advertising or notification of pregnancy counselling services.
On the recommendation of the Selection of Bills Committee, the bill was referred to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee for further examination into the adequacy of the legislation in improving the regulation of pregnancy counselling services. The Committee was also required to determine whether counselling provided by Government funded pregnancy counselling services is objective, non-directive and includes information on all three pregnancy counselling options.This bill does not discriminate against any particular pregnancy counselling service, whether anti-choice or pro-choice.
It is designed to implement the necessary regulatory measures to prevent the misleading and deceptive advertising of pregnancy counselling services. It will not force services that have a philosophical opposition to abortion to refer women to termination clinics, but as the legislation clearly sets out, it requires these services to advertise if they do not provide that particular service, so women can be fully informed.
Misinterpretation 1: Bill forces pregnancy counselling services to refer for abortion
The legislation simply does not "force" pregnancy counselling services to refer for abortion. It does require services to be upfront about whether or not they offer or advise on all three options to women seeking advice.
Misinterpretation 2: Bill forces counsellors to participate in an "illegal act"
As this bill does not seek to change counselling behaviour, merely how they advertise that behaviour, if they are not acting illegally now it is impossible for them to act illegally by continuing their current behaviour.
If so - called "pro-life" pregnancy counselling services are proud of their stance, then advertising that they do not refer for terminations should not be an issue.Misinterpretation 3: Bill favours Pro-choice pregnancy counselling services
This bill is not a debate about the legality of abortion it is about providing women with upfront information about the services that they are contacting for pregnancy counselling.
The minority reports take:
When questioned on how the bill would "favour" only pro-choice pregnancy counselling services, Festival of Light claimed:There's quite a bit more, and the so-called Majority Report (signed by 3 Senators) recommending against adoption of the Bill is fascinating reading of rhetoric informed by an anti-choice agenda, incorporating nearly all the misconceptions outlined in the Minority Report (signed by 6 Senators) above.Because it would provide penalties only for those pregnancy counselling organisations which do not directly refer for abortion and no penalties for agencies like the Pregnancy Advisory Centre in Woodville which does not provide ongoing support for women who want to continue their pregnancy.
In response to this accusation, Senator Stott Despoja stated:If they advertised as a non-directive counselling service and they failed to provide those three options, you bet I'd be happy and they would be guilty under this legislation! It applies across the board
Full Senate Committe reports on this bill here