The decision by the Berejiklian Government to delay voting on the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill in the Legislative Council displays a lack of respect for NSW women, the Human Rights Law Centre has said.
The vote on the bill in the Legislative Council will be delayed until after 17 September 2019, reportedly to allow amendments to be considered. Any successful amendments would then need to be considered by the Legislative Assembly.
“For decades women in NSW have tirelessly fought to decrimalise abortion. This bill is the result of years of work and it didn’t just spring up overnight. It presents a strong model that is endorsed by leading medical, legal and women’s organisations,” said Edwina MacDonald, Sydney Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre.
“Premier Berejiklian knew this when she supported the passing of the bill in the Legislative Assembly just a fortnight ago. Nothing has changed. Passing this bill without delay is what is needed right now to improve reproductive healthcare in NSW.”
There have been reports that Premier Berejiklian is supportive of a proposed amendment to ban sex-selective abortion despite an absence of evidence that this is a problem in NSW and in the face of evidence that such bans can be harmful.
“Abortion bans are one of the many tools used by the anti-abortion movement to create barriers to women’s access to safe abortion services. We need to listen to the experts, like the Australian Medical Association and World Health Organisation. A ban would undermine the health and autonomy of NSW women, and put doctors in the untenable position of having to police their patients.
“If those proposing abortion bans really care about ending gender discrimination, then let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about how governments can better value unpaid care work. Let’s talk about getting women into secure, paid work and positions of power. Let’s talk about increased funding for family violence services.
“It is unacceptable that, in 2019, women still fear prosecution when accessing an abortion and are still treated like they are incapable of making decisions about their bodies and lives. The values of 1900 should not dictate a person’s right to access the healthcare they need in 2019. It’s time the NSW Parliament got on with it,” said MacDonald.