National MP and former Minister of Women Louise Upston has opened up about being asked by a doctor to have an abortion when she was younger.

She was speaking at the first reading of the Abortion Legislation Bill, being debated in Parliament tonight.

Upston, who fought back tears during her speech, told MPs why the debate was so personal to her.

She revealed when she was younger, she was asked by a medical specialist to have an abortion as the child would have been at risk of serious disabilities or abnormalities if it were to be born.

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Upston said she was told in her 20s that she would probably never have children because of some major health issues that required heavy-duty drugs that required her to take contraceptives at the same time.

Despite this, she found out she was 11 weeks pregnant.

"I was told that I absolutely must terminate because of the drugs I had been taken."
But she said she was not sure if she was going to.

She was told by the specialists that if she was carrying a boy then she must have an abortion.

The risk of serious disabilities or abnormalities were great, she was told.

But Upston soon found out that she was, in fact, carrying a boy.

"In addition, they [the specialists] had identified genetic abnormalities," she said.

"Now it seemed to me in terms of what the medical professionals were telling me, I had no choice."

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Upston said the specialists told her they would perform the abortion up to 24 weeks into the pregnancy.

"But at the end of the day, I made my decision and decided not to terminate."

Today, Upston has a "gorgeous, strapping 21 year-old boy who is six foot five".

She agreed that abortion should be removed from the Crimes Act and that earlier abortions would be better for all involved.

But she will be voting against the bill.

Meanwhile, National MP Simeon Brown, a father of a four-month-old daughter, has made a tearful plea to MPs about the right for an unborn child to have legal protections.

"All lives matter, old or young, male or female, black or white, born or unborn."

The current law offered protection by only allowing later-term abortions if it would prevent saving the mother-to-be's life, or to prevent permanent serious or mental injury.

He said the bill would allow for late-term abortions in circumstances that, in the bill, were undefined and under loose parameters.

He said a 24-week-old foetus responded to stimulus and could recognise the sound of a mother's voice, and MPs needed to decide whether that unborn child deserved legal protection, regardless of how rare late-term abortions were.

Brown's voice broke up and he apologised to the Speaker for crying when he spoke of his wife Rebecca and their baby daughter.

"To be a parent is one of the most common things in our world, but it is also a very strange and unique position. A child makes demands not just on a mother's body but also her emotions, time and life in a way that is simply not comparable to any other human relationship."