Australian Summit on Abortion Law Reform - Building the Case for Care



 A 360 degree analysis 

...of what it means to be responsive to women in our Australian community who are considering terminating a pregnancy.

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On Saturday 17 March, 2018,  medical professionals (OBGYNs, Midwives, GPs),   Social Commentators, Psychologists, Counsellors, Social workers, MPs, Researchers, Academics and most importantly, women themselves with experience at the coalface of the issue came together at Queensland Parliament House to work towards real choice for women xpriening unplanned or problematc pregnancy.


The day begun with a morning of talks on the current status of abortion law in Australia, followed by the question of what 'choice' means for women, a panel of experts with years of accumulated experince at the coalface of crisis pregnancy in Australia, the experience of women facing a prenatal diagnosis, and an in depth discussion of the post abortive experience. 

 Lunch on the roof of Parlaiment House followed, where we were entertained by the talented Natalie de Jager, who shard her own personal story of becoming pregnant at 19, interspersed with her original jazz pieces.

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The afternoon session kicked off with an Expert Panel, 'Exploring the Options' consisting of those with experience and expertise in adoption, foster care, Parenting Agreements, soial work and parenting support.  Speaking time was followed by Q&A as participants grappled with the question of alternate care choices women may make for their children when they are unable or do not wish to parent.  

Summit 5 This time was followed by Round Table sessions where guests contributed to policy recommendations on various aspects of the unplanned pregnancy and abortion arena. 

  Following a day of vigorous conversation and deliberation, guests, speakers and visitors  wandered down to join us for drinks on the beautiful   Brisbane River at the iconic Stamford Hotel. An evening  of reflection and recollection of the day's   learnings followed, where guests were splendidly entertained by Concertmaster of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Warwick Adeney, accompanied by his very talented daughter Eleanor.


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 ....Because there are still so many gaps to fill, so many questions unanswered and there's clearly a need to build awareness and equip our elected representatives and community members to ensure we do better for women in our nation and all impacted by their choices.


We express our deepest appreciation for our Sponsors, including Clonakilla Wines, Elegant Vintage Hire and Coco & Eska.

 Wine logo  Screen Shot 2018 03 02 at 7.04.36 pm  Coco Eska



Bryan Kenny

Dr Bryan Kenny, Brisbane-based OB/GYN spoke on informing women, including on risks of termination and  shared his experiences in practice as they relate to termination of pregnancy, including the importance of a second opinion. 

Watch Dr Kenny's talk here. 

 Dr LEah

Dr Leah Torres, OB/GYN and provider of terminations from Utah, America, spoke on informing women  and shared her experiences as a clinical practitioner under recent changes to abortion laws in Utah. Dr Leah found the Summit disussion around the phenomenon of abortion coercion of particular interest: 

“Any sort of reproductive coercion is appalling and it needs to stop and we need to figure out how to work together to ensure that coercion of any sort - financial, romantic, parental, whatever it may be, is not happening.”  - Dr Leah Torres, MD

Watch Dr Torres's talk here. 

Anne Lastman 2015  

Anne Lastman is a Level 4 Counsellor with the Aust. Counsellors Assoc. and Member of Counsellors Vic., with 22 years of counselling experience.  She spoke on how termination can affect the mental health of women, the research on this and the importance of adequate post termination care. 

Anna Walsh

Anna Walsh, Lawyer and a specialist in medical law for 15 years, spoke on current abortion laws across Australia, the current context of abortion law reform and  consequences of legislative change, including on conscientious objection by physicians. Wath Anna's talk here. 

Cath T

Cath Toomey has dedicated the last 20 years of her professional career to providing a voice for the voiceless. Her special interest is in advocating for the rights of women when they are at their most vulnerable.

This has seen her travel the world as a cross-platform journalist covering such humanitarian crisis issues as trafficking, genocide, and female infanticide, to coordinating cultural impact campaigns in Western Nations around topics like the objectification of women and pornification of society.

Cath holds a Bachelor of Media (minors in Psychology & Women's Studies) and completed further post graduate studies in communications and bioethics whilst living in Europe for 7+ years. She completed a Certificate in Pregnancy Counselling from the Foundation for Human Development in 1999, acted as the CEO of a crisis pregnancy support centre and has consulted to over 20 others across both Australia and the world. With two decades of observational research behind her, coupled with a special heart for these issues to drive a new excellence in the provision of pre and post decision/ choices counselling around unexpected or problem pregnancies, it's only now that Cath herself is stepping up to the platform in this area.

Tiana beach pic

Facilitator on 'Data Collection': Tiana Legge is the Director of WOMBS International

Tiana and her organisation have worked tirelessly since their foundation in 2013 to aggregate research and networks of specialists to provide a platform for policy and support for women experiencing issues around their pregnancies. Their objectives include education, particularly on the facts of human life and abortion, online services for pregnant women, and advocacy. Tiana is a respected voice with politicians on the East Coast of Australia as she maintains a distinct level of concerned neutrality, is evidence based and offers real, innovative solutions for women & others who face challenging decisions relating to pregnancy & abortion.

Frances Beaumont 2

Frances Beaumont, RN is a Healthcare professional and .a Leading Ethics & Governance from Victoria, Australia. She is completing a masters in Social Work to add a string to her expert bow. Her clinical experience and experience both as a HREC (Human Research Ethics Committee) member and a clinical trial coordinator / manager gives her a special interest in what is necessary for informed consent. Frances facilitated a round table policy discussion on this topic at our Summit.

Caroline Facilitator Abortion Rethink 2 Caroline McCormack, Director of Mother Effect International: Carrie is passionate about developing measures and implementing policy to ensure women do not experience post natal isolation. She is the founder of the 'Mother Effect' program and movement to promote the worth, the power and the influence of Motherhood and to increase its visibility in the community. Her approach seeks to build networks of support which recreate the original "village" to raise a child in a world where social isolation has become more common.

Jennifer Gurry is the Executive Director and founder of Diamond Women's Support. Coming from a diverse corporate background to the community sector, Jenny enjoys both direct outreach work such as counselling or mentoring, as well as being involved in governance and management. She is dedicated to achieving best practice models of support for women experiencing vulnerable pregnancies via an integrated and systemic approach. Hear from Jennifer here. 

Natalie de Jager Natalie de Jager is a Brisbane singer playing jazz, pop, funk and original music. Natalie fell pregnant at 19, and graciously shared her story amidst her lunchtime entertainment set on the day of the Summit. 

Our evening entertainment at the after Summit Cocktail Soiree was provided by the A wonderful way to reflect on a very productive day.  


Importantly, we also heard from the women themselves who had experienced a crisis pregnancy, their needs and different journeys  throughout and beyond pregnancy. W have not included them here out of respect for their privay.