Amendments would drastically undermine reproductive health outcomes for women

Amendments would drastically undermine reproductive health outcomes for women

Parliament must reject the proposed amendments to the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill, which seek to make it harder for women to access reproductive healthcare than it already is under current law in NSW.

Edwina MacDonald, the Sydney Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre commended the cross-party and evidence based approach to the Bill and said now was the time to change these outdated laws.

“New South Wales’ existing abortion laws are discriminatory and outdated and it is beyond time for them to change.

“This Bill presents a strong model that is consistent with the best medical practice and endorsed by the leading medical and legal experts. It is consistent with the current laws in Victoria and Queensland, and the detailed law reform commission inquiries in those states. It does not need amendments and should be passed without delay.”

Ms MacDonald said that a proposal to remove patient autonomy from 20 weeks would be damaging and add to the distress of women confronted with fatal fetal abnormalities that can only be confirmed at 20-22 weeks.

“I have supported friends who have only learnt about the nature and severity of fatal foetal conditions following a routine ultrasound at 18-20 weeks. They have had to make complex and distressing decisions, and pressuring them to do this by 20 weeks would be damaging and destructive. 

“It is absolutely critical that women have time to understand their options and to discuss them with medical professionals, support services, and family. Parliament must listen to the medical experts who support the gestation period in the bill of 22 weeks.”

Ms MacDonald said that proposals that restrict where abortions can happen and that would delay access to abortion care until after a hospital committee has considered a woman’s situation are extremely misguided and dangerous. 

“These proposed amendments seek to frustrate the process and make it harder than it already is for women to access essential reproductive healthcare. All abortions after 22 weeks are managed by hospitals in NSW, where specialists are present to address the complexity of each individual’s situation.”

The Bill would decriminalise abortion in NSW and respect a person’s right to control their body up to 22 weeks pregnancy. Few abortions happen after 22 weeks and are typically needed for women in distressing and complex situations. After 22 weeks, under the bill, abortions would only available when two doctors consider the abortion appropriate in all the circumstances.

More information about the risks associated with the proposed amendments can be found in our briefing paper.

Media contact:

Michelle Bennett, Communications Director, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519