The current state of reproductive rights in Australia
Every person should have the freedom to make decisions about their bodies and to safely and privately access healthcare. Yet many abortion laws around Australia perpetuate inequality between men and women by restricting the right of women to make important decisions about their bodies and by failing to ensure sufficient safeguards to guarantee practical access to abortion services.
Abortion is still in the criminal statute books in NSW, SA and WA – a recognised form of sex discrimination in international human rights law.
In 2018, abortion was removed from the criminal code in Queensland. Progress has also been made in the NT, but the new laws still arbitrarily limit access to abortion. In Tasmania, some women have to fly interstate because affordable abortion services no longer exist.
Elsewhere, protections that do exist are under threat – safe access zone laws in Victoria and Tasmania are being challenged in the High Court by anti-abortionists. Safe access zones stop the harmful harassment, abuse and intimidation of patients and staff by anti-abortionists directly outside abortion clinics and are crucial to ensuring that women can access reproductive health care safely, privately and with dignity.
Decriminalise abortion and ensure new laws respect a woman’s right to make decisions about their bodies and lives.
We will use the Queensland process to generate momentum for reform in other jurisdictions, particularly NSW and SA.
Ensure women can safely and privately access abortion services
We will ensure the modernisation of abortion laws includes effective safe access zones.
We will defend safe access zone laws in the High Court.
We will investigate legal options to ensure that governments provide affordable abortion services, particularly in Tasmania.
We played a key role in the pushing reform of Queensland’s woefully outdated abortion laws, with a Parliament passing legislation in October 2018. The reforms will ensure all Queenslanders have the right to safe and legal access to abortion.
The Human Rights Law Centre worked with Pro Choice Queensland, Children by Choice and Fair Agenda to provide evidence to a parliamentary inquiry, influence undecided MPs to support the bill and engage in strategic public advocacy.
In 2015, we acted for the East Melbourne Fertility Control Clinic in its Supreme Court bid to end decades-long harassment of women by anti-abortionists out the front of its premises. The case prompted the Melbourne City Council to publicly condemn the harassment and call on the Victorian Government for reform.
The evidence we gathered and advocacy we undertook with MPs and in the media, was crucial in prompting the Victorian Parliament to pass safe access zones laws. The laws have been effective at stopping two decades of harassment, allowing 5,000 patients per year and 15 staff to safely access the clinic, and stopping harassment at other Victorian clinics.
Our strategic political engagement and public advocacy contributed significantly to the passing of safe access zone laws in NSW in June 2018, for which the HRLC was acknowledged in Parliament.
We have successfully worked with women’s rights, medical and campaign groups in the NT and Tasmania to decriminalise abortion laws and ensure safe access to reproductive health services.
Queensland women will finally have the freedom to decide what is right for their bodies with the passing of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill in the Queensland Parliament last night.
Laws that protect the dignity, safety and privacy of women seeking reproductive healthcare should be upheld, the High Court will hear in a case set to begin in Canberra tomorrow.
The Queensland Parliament should demonstrate its commitment to women’s health and equality by passing a bill to modernise the state’s woefully outdated abortion laws the Human Right Law Centre said in a submission to a parliamentary committee today.
Laws that protect the dignity, safety and privacy of women seeking reproductive healthcare should be upheld, the Human Rights Law Centre has argued in submissions accepted this week by the High Court.
The Queensland Parliament should demonstrate its commitment to women’s health and equality by passing a bill that would update the state’s woefully outdated abortion laws.
The Queensland Parliament has the historic opportunity to bring its woefully outdated abortion laws into the 21st Century with the Queensland Premier today proposing welcome new laws to remove abortion from the criminal code.
The Australian Government will face intense scrutiny of its treatment of women and girls in next week at the United Nations.
Northern Territory women have had 12 months of better quality healthcare since abortion laws were reformed last year, however the Northern Territory Government is yet to finish the job.
Australian governments should respect a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body by removing abortion from criminal laws the Human Rights Law Centre told the UN Human Rights Council in a statement delivered in Geneva overnight.
Australian governments should end the routine strip searching of women in prison the Human Rights Law Centre has told the UN Human Rights Council in a statement delivered in Geneva overnight.
For the first time in 15 years, women attending the Surry Hill’s reproductive health clinic did so today without being harassed, intimidated or filmed.
The Turnbull Government’s second session as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the UN body responsible for protecting the rights and dignity of people all over the world, will begin in Geneva tomorrow.
Women in NSW will no longer be forced to run a gauntlet of abuse and harassment just to see their doctor after the NSW Parliament today passed a bill to create safe access zones around abortion clinics.
Laws that protect the dignity, safety and privacy of women seeking reproductive healthcare should be upheld the Human Rights Law Centre has argued in a submission to the High Court today.
The importance of a woman's right to safely and privately access reproductive health services has been recognised by the NSW Legislative Council with the passing of a bill that would guarantee safe access zones around abortion clinics.
The safety, wellbeing and dignity of women seeking reproductive health services is a step closer to being protected in New South Wales through a bill that would guarantee safe access zones around abortion clinics.
After a week of intense negotiations, the Western Australian Government has avoided urgent Supreme Court action by allowing a newborn Aboriginal baby to remain with her mother.
In a submission to the Queensland Law Reform Commission’s inquiry into abortion laws, the Human Rights Law Centre has called for the decriminalisation of abortion and for new laws that respect women’s right to choose what happens to their bodies.
Women in Victorian prisons are being regularly and routinely subjected to degrading strip-searches and the Government should end the practice. Speaking at the launch of a new report, the HRLC's Ruth Barson said being forced to remove every last item of clothing again and again, strips women of dignity and of hope.
The Queensland Government should demonstrate a commitment to women’s health and refer abortion to the state’s Law Reform Commission, a coalition of legal, medical and community groups said.
Today Penny Sharpe MLC introduced a bill into the New South Wales parliament to protect the privacy, safety and dignity of women accessing reproductive health services.
“For too long, women in NSW have had to run the gauntlet of intimidation and abuse just to see their doctor. It’s difficult to understand how this behaviour has been allowed to continue for so long,” said Ms Howie.
Queensland MPs must urgently support abortion law reform to make Queensland law relevant to current clinical practice and community values, the Human Rights Law Centre said today.
The Human Rights Law Centre welcomes the Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Bill tabled in the Northern Territory Parliament today but argues that it doesn’t go far enough to truly modernise the Territory’s abortion laws and respect women as competent decision-makers.
The Northern Territory Government should demonstrate its commitment to women’s health and equality by modernising the Territory’s outdated abortion laws said the Human Rights Law Centre today in a submission to the Northern Territory Government’s discussion paper on abortion law reform.
Queensland has an historic opportunity to bring its abortion laws into line with clinical practice and common sense, the Human Rights Law Centre told Queensland parliament this week.
The Victorian Parliament has passed a new law to protect the privacy, safety and dignity of women accessing reproductive health services.
The coronial inquest into Ms Dhu’s tragic death in police custody has heard that Ms Dhu was in a violent relationship with her partner, Dion Ruffin, at the time of her arrest. Mr Ruffin was taken into custody together with Ms Dhu and was known to police as someone with a violent criminal history.
The coronial inquest into Ms Dhu’s tragic death in police custody begins in Perth tomorrow morning.
Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers received unprecedented condemnation from the international community as the Government appeared before the Human Rights Council in Geneva overnight for its major four yearly human rights review in a process known as the ‘Universal Periodic Review’.
It’s 2018 and women’s voices are still ridiculed, disregarded, dismissed and put down. But there’s no doubting that our voices are out there, loud and clear and they are increasingly more difficult to ignore. Our voices are out there and this is a good thing. But not all women’s voices are heard.
On Friday, the people of Ireland will vote on whether a divisive constitutional ban on abortion should end. Ireland's abortion laws are some of the most harsh and archaic in the world – only since 2013 have abortions to save a woman's life been legal.
Queensland MPs stand at a crossroads when it comes to the state's abortion laws, but one thing is abundantly clear: the status quo is unacceptable. New polling released this week shows overwhelming public support for women's right to choose abortion in Queensland and that voters are turned off by MPs who support criminalising abortion.
Women in the Northern Territory are being told that they still can’t be trusted to make decisions about their bodies. That’s the message that comes through in a discussion paper released by the Northern Territory Government proposing changes to the Territory’s abortion laws.
Legislation to create safe access zones around abortion clinics is another welcome step towards ridding our society of all forms of violence against women.
While ongoing commitments and efforts to secure the rights of the world’s women and girls are commendable, on no measure can we say that our work is done, writes Natasha Stott Despoja, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls.
Australia recently argued before the Committee Against Torture that violence against women does not fall within the Committee’s mandate. Australia was unequivocally wrong to do so – both legally and ethically, writes the HRLC's Ruth Barson
What will it take for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' over-imprisonment trajectory to change course, asks the HRLC's Ruth Barson.
HRLC equality law expert Rachel Ball joins with investment banker and business leader Simon McKeon AO in analysing the government's proposed Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.
A society free from domestic and family violence is possible, but it will take effort from the whole community to achieve. First, we need to reject the myth that family violence is a private problem that only exists within the four walls of the home.