People need more time to get their heads around proposed changes to abortion legislation, Gunnedah Nationals branch chairman says.
At the Tamworth state electoral council's meeting this week, Murray O'Keefe said the branch voted to not support the bill as it stands, and to write to elected state Nationals to express "concerns and frustration" over "lack of consultation".
As the branch discussed the issue, more than 50 locals gathered outside to vocalise their thoughts on proposed changes to the Reproductive Health Care Reform bill, which will be debated in the NSW Legislative Council from September 17.
Gunnedah Anglican Church minister Scott Dunlop was among them and said many were "dismayed" the bill had passed through the NSW Legislative Assembly.
They were "particularly disappointed that 11 out of 13 National MPs voted in favour of the bill".
"The bill hasn't passed through the NSW Legislative Council yet, but unfortunately the National party is expected to vote in a similar way again," Mr Dunlop said.
"That's why people felt strongly enough to gather to be a voice for the vulnerable, and show concern for the rights of the mother and the child.
"It's important that women who are in a difficult situation are cared for, but this radical Reproductive Health Care Reform bill isn't going to increase care for women, and has significant flaws in many areas that will result in serious consequences for society.
"The two of most concern are, firstly, that it opens the door for late-term abortions from 22 weeks until the day before birth ... Secondly, the bill will open the door for sex selection and children could be aborted simply because they are the unwanted sex."
Mr O'Keefe said he had invited the residents to become members of the branch "because I really applaud them for taking the time and effort to stand up for an issue that's important for them".
"This is a really emotive issue for a huge section of the community and it is an issue that really goes to the very core of our social fabric as a society," he said.
"It's important that all members of the community have time to understand and get their heads around what the current legal position on abortion is [and] what the proposed legislation will change in that position."
Mr O'Keefe said the members wanted time to "think about and consider and ask questions to fully understand the issues, and unpack our own thoughts and feelings about the issue and look into what's being achieved here".
"There was a motion meeting carried at the meeting for the branch to write to our elected state Nationals and to express our concerns and frustration at the lack of consultation for national branches and members to be consulted on our thoughts and feelings and have time to give and receive genuine feedback," he said.
"The second part of the same motion also expresses our branch's opinion that the branch does not support the bill as presently written but is hopeful the upper house will consult further and consider sensible amendments.
"It's important to note that we didn't debate what sensible amendments look like."
Mr O'Keefe encouraged residents to contact upper house MPs to share their views.