NSW abortion decriminalisation: Christian lobby targets Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke with flyers

An Australian Christian Lobby distributed in the Cootamundra electorate attacking Nationals MP Steph Cooke over her vote to decriminalise abortion.
An Australian Christian Lobby distributed in the Cootamundra electorate attacking Nationals MP Steph Cooke over her vote to decriminalise abortion.

Reproductive Rights Rural NSW has defended Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke after the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) distributed 15,700 flyers throughout her electorate urging constituents to "look at Steph Cooke's voting record on abortion"

Ms Cooke was one of six NSW Nationals MPs targeted by a total of 94,200 flyers, according to the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL).

Cowra residents have reported receiving copies of the flyer.

Reproductive Rights Rural NSW spokeswoman Caitlin Langley said the ACL was misrepresenting the terms of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill in the flyers.

"I never cease to be amazed by the Australian Christian Lobby using false and misleading propaganda to slander politicians," she said.

Ms Langley said the flyer's claim that decriminalisation would come in the form of a "radical abortion-to-birth bill" was incorrect.

"Those procedures can only be done in the context that the woman's life is in jeopardy," she said.

"Eighty per cent of terminations occur before 16 weeks."

Ms Langley said she could accept people voicing their opposition to the bill, but wanted the debate to be based on facts.

"Steph Cooke is absolutely in touch with the people and there has been an overwhelming response from doctors living in rural NSW who have been consulting with MPs on this," Ms Langley said.

ACL NSW director Kieren Jackson said the flyers were distributed due to the legislation to remove abortion from the criminal code was an "extreme piece of work"

Cootamundra MP STeph Cooke and NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro, who have both been targeted by the Australian Christian Lobby over abortion laws.

Cootamundra MP STeph Cooke and NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro, who have both been targeted by the Australian Christian Lobby over abortion laws.

"The fact that only two Nationals Party MPs out of thirteen voted against the bill shows just how out of touch the party is on this issue," Mr Jackson said.

"Nationals MPs in the upper house now have an opportunity to show they have woken up to the extreme nature of this bill.

"We have seen how this issue has damaged the Liberal Party, but it's also damaged the Nationals who have shown themselves to be out of touch with their voter base."

Ms Cooke declined to comment and pointed to her statement issued when the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill passed Parliament's lower house last month by a 23-vote majority.

At the time, Ms Cooke said voting for the bill had been an "extremely difficult decision".

"I knew the bill had the overwhelming support of Parliament, and I wanted to ensure it was amended to ensure the highest possible safeguards for families and women facing this unimaginably difficult decision," she said.

"While I have strong personal views on this subject, I also believe in exercising compassion and humanity and not passing judgement on the personal decisions of others."

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