National

NSW Liberal urges abortion debate respect

By AAP Newswire

A senior NSW Liberal MP has urged his colleagues to take the politics out of the abortion laws debate and respect the views of all parliamentarians as they discuss amendments to the controversial bill.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance called for MPs to respect the conscience vote process after rebel Liberal backbenchers Tanya Davies, Lou Amato and Matthew Mason-Cox on Monday night said they would call a spill motion against Premier Gladys Berejiklian over her handling of the bill.

However, the trio called off their demand for a leadership vote on Tuesday morning.

"I wish they'd focus on the issue at hand instead of the politics of this," Mr Constance told reporters in Sydney.

"This is a conscience vote. I respect their conscience and their view. I'd be hopeful they're equally respectful of mine."

Mr Constance said he hoped the private member's bill would be passed this week after the upper house started debating amendments on Tuesday afternoon.

The debate comes after a weekend of demonstrations from supporters and opponents of the draft legislation.

In its current form, the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 would allow terminations up to 22 weeks as well as later abortions if two doctors agree.

The bill passed the lower house 59-31 in August.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich, who introduced the bill, has called for parliament to come together to "ensure women and their doctors are appropriately protected under the law".

Opponents have raised concerns about late-term abortions, conscientious objection, gender-based terminations and the way the bill was introduced.

A group of upper house MPs, including the Shooters' Robert Borsak, One Nation's Mark Latham, Labor's Courtney Houssos and the Liberals' Natasha Maclaren-Jones, are expected to push for a number of amendments.

Under some of their changes, medical practitioners would not perform terminations reasonably believed to be for sex selection or perform terminations after 20 weeks except to save the life of a mother or another unborn child.

An amendment seeking to move the trigger for further medical oversight when a woman is having an abortion from 22 to 20 weeks was rejected by the house on Tuesday night following robust debate.