There are currently moves to change the abortion laws of:
New South Wales
New South Wales Situation
What’s going on in New South Wales?
On 11 August 2016, Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi introduces the Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill 2016 to the NSW Parliament’s Upper House.
This bill repeals all laws punishing unlawful abortion. It puts NSW women at greater risk of harm in abortion by removing restrictions against unqualified persons performing an abortion (including self-administered abortions) and failing to provide safeguards to ensure women give fully informed consent. It allows the abortion of viable babies right up to birth with no restrictions at all.
The bill includes a provision for safe zones around abortion clinics which would forbid any communication within the zone that is not in favour of abortion. These ‘safe zones’ would even criminalise the boyfriend or parents of a woman seeking abortion if they are found to be asking her not to undergo the procedure. Offenders may face a penalty of 6 months in goal.
The bill also denies the right of doctors to practice according to their conscience and to refuse to participate in an abortion if they do not believe this is in the best interests of their patient. If doctors object to providing or recommending an abortion, they will be legally obligated to refer the patient to another doctor who will do so, thereby becoming implicit in the process.
Currently abortion is legal in NSW under relevant case law if the woman’s doctor has an honest and reasonable belief that it is necessary to preserve her from serious danger to her life, physical or mental health and that the risks of the abortion are not out of proportion to the danger to be averted. In assessing whether a serious danger to her mental health exists, the doctor may take into account economic or social factors and whether these factors may be relevant after the birth of a child.
Abortion must be performed by a licensed medical practitioner.
Unlawful abortion is a crime under s.82-84 of the NSW Crimes Act 1990.
No woman has ever faced prosecution for having an abortion under the current NSW law. The current law is necessary to protect women from unlicensed practitioners and to give them some legal safeguards when it comes to forced or coerced abortions.
WHO IS CONCERNED?
Faruqi’s abortion bill is of major concern among medical professionals, social advocates, mental health professionals, lawyers, families and the wider community. Most importantly of all, it has raised serious objections among NSW’s women, particularly those who have experienced abortion themselves and find that the bill completely ignores their stories. Too many women have experienced pressure, coercion, abuse, domestic violence, absence of true care and informed consent, and a general lack of information and support surrounding abortion and unplanned pregnancy.
It is vital that the NSW Parliament listens to the community’s voices as they consider such grave and potentially damaging legislation.
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
Concerned about the Faruqi bill but not sure what to do? Not sure what your view is but would like to learn more?
Take action TODAY. The bill may be voted on as early as May 2017.
See this page for a list of tasks. Follow us on social media for the latest updates.
What’s going on in Queensland?
THE ROB PYNE BILL: AS IT HAPPENED
10 May 2016: Independent MP for Cairns, Mr Rob Pyne introduces his Abortion Law Reform (Woman’s Right to Choose) Amendment Bill into the Queensland Parliament. The bill proposes removing existing safeguards for women and medical professionals, proposing abortion on demand for any reason until birth.
16 August 2016: Mr Pyne introduces a second bill - the Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill. This bill has a supposed restriction on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, but this provision has no penalty and it is so loose that it still allows abortions until birth. At the same time, it criminalises peaceful protests within 50 metres of any abortion facility. The bill does allow for conscientious objection of medical professionals, although it is unclear to what extent.
27 August 2016: After receiving 1450 submissions, 81 % of which are in opposition to the first bill, the QLD Parliamentary Health Committee reports on its examination of the bill and recommends that it not be passed by Parliament.
11 February 2017: A March organised by various groups outside Parliament House is attended by 4,000 people.
17 February 2017: After receiving an additional 1276 submissions, 80 % of which are against the Bills, the QLD Parliamentary Health Committee reports on its examination of the second bill. The Committee states that it is unable to make a recommendation on whether or not the bill should be passed by Parliament.
29 February 2017: After a record breaking combined 55,604 signatures on an official Parliamentary Petition, Rob Pyne withdraws both of his Bills from Parliament when it becomes clear that neither can pass.
1 March 2017: Deputy Premier Jackie Trad announces that the Queensland Government is sending the current law on abortion in Queensland to the Queensland Law Reform Commission for review.
Ms Trad states that once any recommendations are returned from the QLD LRC, Labor will take those recommendation and introduce a new bill to Parliament to decriminalise abortion. It remains unclear if such a bill would be a Private Member’s Bill or be sponsored by the QLD Australian Labor Party.
1 March 2017: Queenslanders gather in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens for a candlelight vigil to reflect on the 9 month journey and honour women’s voices.
2 March Onwards: The current law remains with the Queensland Law Reform Commission. The process of review by the Law Reform Commission has not yet commenced. Once started it is estimated to take 6 - 18 months.
The 2018 Queensland State Election is expected to take place by the end of 2017.
Whether a new abortion bill will be introduced to Parliament is dependent on a wide variety of factors including the makeup of Parliament during the next Parliamentary term.