Experts and community groups back public call for abortion reform

Experts and community groups back public call for abortion reform

Seventy health, legal, community and women’s organisations have joined together today to launch an open letter calling on members of parliament to be on the right side of history, and vote in support of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 that will be brought before parliament this week.

The open letter, led by Fair Agenda, the Human Rights Law Centre and NSW Pro-Choice Alliance, has been signed by RANZCOG, the Australian College of Nursing, Domestic Violence NSW, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia.

The joint letter states that, “at its core, this bill is about supporting women and pregnant people’s autonomy, dignity and wellbeing”. Stating that current laws are “archaic, cruel and degrading”, and that they “increase the distress, delay and financial burden faced by someone who needs to end a pregnancy.”

The signatories note that the laws create unacceptable barriers to healthcare access, and that the broken system disproportionately harms women in rural and remote areas, as well as women affected by physical and sexual violence.

CEO of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, Karen Willis said: "Keeping abortion in the Crimes Act ensures that it is women experiencing domestic or sexual violence that are the most disadvantaged. Refusing to address the health concerns of women in their time of need is cruel and puts their health in jeopardy."

“This bill is about creating a more compassionate healthcare system; and recognising that a woman facing a crisis pregnancy knows what is best for her health, her body and her family. This reform is also about preventing additional harm to vulnerable members of our communities – including women affected by domestic and sexual violence,” said Executive Director of Fair Agenda, Renee Carr.

NSW Pro-Choice Alliance Campaign Manager Sinead Canning said: “We have the chance to remove abortion from the Crimes Act and finally move our state into the 21st Century. These leaders in their respective fields of law, health and community services are calling on all NSW Parliament to finally decriminalise abortion – MPs would do well to listen to them."

“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 politicians relinquishing control over women’s reproductive freedom,” said Edwina MacDonald, Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre.

Read the open letter here.

Media contacts:

NSW Pro Choice Alliance: 0402 880 653
Fair Agenda: 0407 527 099
Human Rights Law Centre: 0419 100 519