Submission from Archbishops Fisher and Makarios on Zoe’s Law

29 January 2021

Director, Law Enforcement and Crime
NSW Department of Communities and Justice
GPO Box 31
Sydney, NSW 2001


By email:


Dear Director

Exposure Draft of the Crimes Legislation (Offences Against Pregnant Women) Bill 2020 

Thank you for the opportunity to make comment on the Exposure Draft of the Crimes Legislation (Offences Against Pregnant Women) Bill 2020 (Bill).

As we understand it, the campaign for law reform in the area of ‘child destruction’ laws was to recognise that the death of an unborn child is not merely an injury to the mother of that child, but rather the loss of a human life; one whose presence is missed and mourned by those left behind.

As Brodie Donegan, the mother of Zoe for whom ‘Zoe’s Law’ is named said regarding the Bill: “I healed from my other injuries … and Zoe didn’t come back to me… I just felt that her loss was more significant than my injuries and it should just be recognised separately.”1

Although the Bill increases by three years the maximum penalty for a crime committed against a pregnant woman that results in the death of an unborn child, allows for that child to be named in the indictment and provides an opportunity for family members to provide victim impact statements, it still does not recognise the unborn child as a separate life worthy of standalone acknowledgment under the law.

This means that the Bill fails to achieve the principle objective of many of those who have campaigned for this law for more than a decade, and may be regarded by them and their supporters as mere tokenism. The Bill, if passed, will not relieve the Government of ongoing demands for the just recognition in law of the loss of an unborn child whose mother is the victim of criminal conduct – especially when the death of the child was the perpetrator’s primary intent.

To provide such fuller recognition – or even the minimal recognition in the present Bill – will require the Government to resist the powerful abortion lobby that sees any recognition of the existence of the unborn child as a threat to the unfettered availability of abortion up to birth. I trust our leaders will demonstrate such courage.

Yours sincerely in Christ,


Most Rev. Anthony Fisher OP
Catholic Archbishop of Sydney

Archbishop Makarios
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia