Zoe’s Law Forum at the University of New England

Published 31 January 2014

ZoeOn Monday 3 February the University of New England’s School of Law will be holding a forum to debate the implications of ‘Zoe’s Law’, a bill currently before the NSW Parliament.

Zoe’s Law aims to confer legal personhood on foetuses over 20 weeks’ gestation or weighing 400g or more, in the context of criminal assault under the NSW Crimes Act.

The Bill passed through the NSW Legislative Assembly late last year, and is due to be voted on in the NSW Legislative Council early this year.

The purpose of the forum is to bring together a number of eminent and qualified speakers from a range of perspectives – legal, medical and religious – to discuss the likely impact the bill will have.

Member of the Legislative Council, Mr Scot MacDonald, will provide an introduction to the forum, and Fran Wright from UNE’s School of Law will speak on the background to the Bill.

Guest speakers include:
–    Hanna Robert, La Trobe University School of Law
–    Catherine Henry, Catherine Henry Partners Health & Relationship Law
–    Dr Andrew East, Armidale Community Church
–    Dr Max Mansoor, Medical Director of Armidale Hospital
–    Dr Philippa Ramsay, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Sydney Adventist Hospital

The forum will conclude with a  discussion and debate.

Zoe’s Law is named after the stillborn daughter of Brodie Donegan, who was hit by a car when she was eight months pregnant. The driver of the car was charged with grievous bodily harm under the Crimes Act for the injury she inflicted on Brodie, but there was no separate offence for the death of the foetus.

The Bill has raised a number of legal and ethical questions, and has been the subject for considerable debate both in politics and in the wider community. This will be an opportunity for a range of expert perspectives to be heard in one place.