Berejiklian defends MPs on abortion vote

Jamie McKinnell

The NSW premier is resisting calls to sack two of her ministers - who are responsible for women and the prevention of domestic violence - after they voted against laws to protect women seeking abortions.

Tanya Davies and Pru Goward last week voted against a bill to provide 150 metre "safe zones" outside abortion clinics to prevent abuse and harassment after government MPs were allowed a conscience vote.

Ms Davies is the current Minister for Women, while Ms Goward is the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and a former sex discrimination commissioner and minister for women.

Ms Berejiklian, who supported the legislation, on Tuesday rejected calls for her ministers' sacking and described both colleagues as "outstanding".

"That was a complex issue and that's why members of my party were given a conscience vote," she told reporters in Sydney.

"Some people interpreted the bill as a law and order issue, others treated it as a health issue. It was really up to members and their personal conscience and I respect that."

Ms Berejiklian didn't agree that by voting against such a bill Ms Davies sent a message she wasn't supporting women who used the services of abortion clinics.

"I think what's important to remember is there's a variety of views in the community about this issue - it's not a black and white issue - my party is no different from that," she said.

Asked whether the public might question Ms Davies' position, she replied, "No".

When justifying her position in parliament, Ms Davies said it would be "counterproductive" for women to be denied an "informed choice", courtesy of information shared with them by those who rally outside abortion clinics.

Ms Goward believed the bill was an attack on freedom of speech.

The laws, which ultimately passed, make it illegal to communicate with, film or intimidate women near abortion clinics.

First offenders face up to six months in prison and repeat offenders up to a year.