Australia’s most archaic abortion laws desperately overdue for change

Australia’s most archaic abortion laws desperately overdue for change

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should demonstrate its commitment to women’s health and equality by passing a bill to modernise the state’s woefully outdated abortion laws the Human Right Law Centre said in a submission to a parliamentary committee today.

The Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 would decriminalise abortion, respect a woman’s right to choose up to 22 weeks of pregnancy and create safe access zones around abortion clinics. The Bill has been referred to a parliamentary committee.

Adrianne Walters, senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre said that it was essential that Queensland’s 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 freedom to decide what is right for their body,” said Walters.

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

"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 Walters.

Multiple polls in Queensland 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. Polling released two weeks ago indicates that 71.9% of Queensland voters would support changing the law so that abortion is no longer a crime.

“It is now time for Queensland MPs to do their jobs, listen to their communities and respect women as capable decision makers,” said Walters.

The Human Rights Law Centre submission to the committee is available here.

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Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications: 0419 100 519

Photo: Shari Birse