The New South Wales Parliament has a historic opportunity to bring its 119 year old abortion laws into the 21st Century.
The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019, to be introduced in Parliament today, would finally wipe abortion from the criminal statute books. The Bill respects women’s health and equality with the right to control her body up to 22 weeks pregnancy. After 22 weeks, two doctors would be part of the decision-making process.
Queensland passed near identical abortion law reforms last year.
Edwina MacDonald, Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre commended the collaborative cross-party approach to the bill, which has a record 15 co-sponsors.
“This is a historic day for NSW. Politicians from across the floor have listened to the voices of women, doctors, lawyers and many others who have been campaigning for abortion decriminalisation for decades. Now it is time for all MPs to vote in support of women’s health and equality,” said MacDonald.
“This bill has been a long time coming. NSW is lagging behind Queensland, Victoria, and all other states and territories in having failed to reform its abortion laws for over 100 years. The values of 1900 should not dictate a person’s right to access the healthcare they need in 2019,” said MacDonald.
“This is not a complex issue. This is about better health outcomes for women. This is about respecting women as competent decision-makers over our bodies and lives. This is about relinquishing control over women’s reproductive freedom,” said MacDonald.
NSW’s abortion laws are the most discriminatory and outdated in Australia. Women have had to rely on the courts to interpret the criminal law as allowing an abortion to proceed where a doctor determines that it is needed to prevent serious danger to a woman’s life or physical or mental health.
New South Wales is one of three states that still uses the criminal laws to regulate abortion, along with South Australia and Western Australia, however it is the only jurisdiction in Australia to have not reformed its abortion laws in over 100 years.
Michelle Bennett, Communications Director, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519