Time to bring Queensland’s abortion laws into the 21st Century

 Time to bring Queensland’s abortion laws into the 21st Century

The Queensland Government should demonstrate its commitment to women’s health and equality by upholding an election commitment to modernise the state’s woefully outdated abortion laws.

In a submission to the Queensland Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into abortion laws, the Human Rights Law Centre has called for the decriminalisation of abortion and for new laws that respect women’s right to choose what happens to their bodies. It also renewed its call for the creation of safe access zones around abortion clinics.

Adrianne Walters, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said that Queensland’s law currently falls well short of accepted medical standards and community values.

"The current laws reflect completely outdated views about women and sex. The majority of the Queensland community have said they want to see the laws change. The medical profession want to see the laws changed. It’s time for Queensland to bring abortion laws out of the 19th century and into line with community expectations, clinical practice, and common sense," said Ms Walters.

Polling in Queensland in 2017 showed that over 80 per cent of people think that it should be legal for a woman to decide to terminate her pregnancy in consultation with a medical professional.

Abortion is still a part of Queensland’s criminal law, despite a wealth of evidence that criminalising abortion is bad for women’s health.

"Criminalising abortion does not stop women having abortions, it just causes confusion and fear for women and doctors. It forces women to travel interstate or risk unsafe clandestine abortions. Women should be empowered to make the best decision for their lives in consultation with their doctor, and without fearing criminal prosecution," said Ms Walters.

The submission calls for the creation of safe access zones around abortion clinics to stop anti-abortionists from harassing and intimidating women as they enter.

"Women shouldn’t have to run a gauntlet of abuse and harassment just to see their doctor. Queensland must ensure that all women can access health services without suffering harm," said Ms Walters.

The Human Rights Law Centre submission is available here.

For interviews or further information please call:
Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519

Photo: Shari Birse