Accessible reproductive healthcare must be the priority as NSW moves closer to decriminalising abortion

Accessible reproductive healthcare must be the priority as NSW moves closer to decriminalising abortion

The passage of the NSW Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill through the Legislative Assembly is a long awaited step towards decriminalisation of abortion in NSW.

Edwina MacDonald, the Sydney Legal Director at the Human Rights Law Centre, welcomed the strong endorsement from lower house members of Parliament that women’s reproductive health has no place in the criminal law.

“The current laws are archaic and change is long overdue. 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 vote in the Legislative Assembly reflects the overwhelming community view that our laws should respect every person’s right to control their body and their health.” 

Despite the Bill being endorsed by leading medical, legal and women’s organisations, a number of amendments were made. MacDonald described the amendments as disappointing and unnecessary. 

“The Bill was endorsed by the leading medical and legal experts, and was consistent with laws in Victoria and Queensland, which resulted from detailed law reform commission inquiries. It didn’t need to be changed. Thankfully a number of dangerous anti-choice amendments were rejected."

The Bill will now be subject to a Legislative Council inquiry, before being voted on. MacDonald welcomed the Legislative Council inquiry as an opportunity to look closely at the amendments to ensure they won’t make access to abortion in NSW harder.

“The Legislative Council must carefully consider the Bill to ensure that all people are able to access comprehensive reproductive healthcare. At best, the amendments are unnecessary. At worst, they threaten women’s health by creating additional barriers, making it harder for women to access timely essential care.”

Media contact:

Michelle Bennett, Communications Director: 0419 100 519