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

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

The Queensland Parliament should demonstrate its commitment to women’s health and equality by passing a bill to modernise the state’s woefully outdated abortion laws.

The Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018, tabled today in Parliament, would decriminalise abortion, respect a woman’s right to choose up to 22 weeks of pregnancy and create safe access zones around abortion clinics.

Daile Kelleher, Manager at Children by Choice urged the Queensland Parliament to seize the opportunity to enact laws that would promote women’s equality.

“Today is a historic day for our state – this is the first bill ever introduced by a Queensland Government to decriminalise abortion. It is now time for Queensland MPs to do their jobs and be the voice for their local constituents by voting in favour of abortion law reform,” said Ms Kelleher.

Abortion currently sits in Queensland’s 1899 criminal code, making the state’s abortion laws the most archaic in Australia, closely followed by NSW.

Adrianne Walters, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre said that it was essential that the laws be brought into line with modern community values and medical practice.

“The values of 1899 should not limit a woman’s right to access the healthcare they need in 2018. Now is the time for MPs to demonstrate the value they place on women’s health and lives and ensure that every Queenslander has the right to decide what is right for their body,” said Walters.

The bill follows a comprehensive review and community consultation process by the Queensland Law Reform Commission.

“The current laws disadvantage the most vulnerable women, creating barriers for regional and remote Queenslanders as well as those experiencing domestic violence or control in their relationships. The proposed bill will break down some of those barriers and help to create more equality in healthcare,” said Ms Kelleher

Multiple polls in Queensland over the last few years have shown high levels of support for decriminalising abortion and giving women the right to decide to terminate a pregnancy in consultation with their doctor. New polling, released today, indicates that 71.9% of Queensland voters would support changing the law so that abortion is no longer a crime.

"It’s absolutely shameful that women in Queensland in 2018 still fear being imprisoned for a safe medical procedure. The law should support all people to make the best possible decision for their own health," said Ms Walters.

Children by Choice’s submission to the Queensland Law Reform Commission is available here.

The Human Rights Law Centre submission to the Queensland Law Reform Commission is available here. 

For interviews with Daile Kelleher, please contact Sinead Canning: 0490 250 999 or sineadc@childrenbychoice.org.au

For interview with Adrianne Walters from HRLC, please contact Michelle Bennett: 0419 100 519

Photo: Shari Birse