Every person has the right to make decisions about their own body. Australian laws and policies must promote the health, dignity and reproductive freedom of all women. We are working to achieve this by:
Promoting reproductive freedom across Australia by decriminalising abortion and ensuring new laws promote the right of every person to make decisions about their bodies and lives.
Securing safe access zones laws around Australia to protect women from anti-choice harassment and abuse when trying to access reproductive healthcare.
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.
However, abortion is still in the criminal statute books in NSW, SA and WA – a recognised form of sex discrimination in international human rights law. The criminalisation of abortion harms women by making it harder to access safe and compassionate reproductive healthcare.
Trans men and gender diverse people are also harmed by laws that restrict access to reproductive healthcare, which is further compounded by other forms of gender-based discrimination.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.
We played a key role in the pushing reform of Queensland’s woefully outdated abortion laws, with Parliament passing legislation in October 2018. The reforms will ensure all Queenslanders have the right to safe and legal access to abortion.
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 the Victorian Parliament to pass safe access zone 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.
The NSW Parliament must listen to the people of New South Wales and pass the bill to decriminalise abortion without further delay.
The Morrison Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill fails to strike a fair balance between freedom of religion and the rights of other people, the Human Rights Law Centre has warned.
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 New South Wales Parliament has a historic opportunity to bring its 119 year old abortion laws into the 21st Century this week.
Where implemented, bans on sex-selective abortions inhibit women’s timely access to healthcare. Such a ban in NSW would undermine women’s health and autonomy, while doing nothing about the societal attitudes and structures that see women discriminated against in many facets of their lives.
The NSW Legislative Council must remove abortion from the Crimes Act by passing the Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019 without further amendment or delay, the Human Rights Law Centre has told a parliamentary inquiry.
The passage of the NSW Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill through the Legislative Assembly is a long awaited step towards decriminalisation of abortion in NSW.
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.
The bill currently being debated to decriminalize abortion in NSW allows for a medical practitioner to perform an abortion after 22 weeks gestation where they have consulted with another medical practitioner and both consider the abortion appropriate in all the circumstances. It has been suggested that the bill should be amended to reduce the gestation period to 20 weeks. This briefing note explains why that would undermine the reproductive health outcomes of women.
More than 70 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 New South Wales Parliament has a historic opportunity to bring its 119 year old abortion laws into the 21st Century.
The New South Wales Parliament should demonstrate its commitment to women’s health and equality by passing a bill to modernise the state’s archaic abortion laws.
This week the United Nations heard a scathing statement about a discriminatory Federal Government parenting scheme that targets Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and single mothers.
Developments in technology should not come at the cost of our human rights, the Human Rights Law Centre has told the United Nations’ independent expert on poverty.
Western Australia and South Australia must decriminalise abortion and put in place laws that promote safe access to reproductive healthcare, the Human Rights Law Centre said in submissions to separate reviews in South Australia and Western Australia.
The NSW ProChoice Alliance today launched its NSW abortion decriminalisation campaign in Sydney as peak legal, health and community organisations signalled a commitment to have abortion removed from the NSW Crimes Act and regulated like any other health procedure.
People in prison in Western Australia were subjected to close to 1 million strip searches over the past 5 years, a shocking report by the Independent Inspector of Custodial Services has found.
Today, in a landmark decision, the High Court confirmed that women have the right to safely and privately access reproductive healthcare without being accosted and intimidated. Sensible laws that prohibit harassment outside abortion clinics are here to stay.
Laws that promote the safety, dignity and privacy of women seeking reproductive healthcare have been upheld by the High Court of Australia.
Today at 10:15am the High Court of Australia will issue its judgment in response to a challenge to Victoria and Tasmania’s safe access zone laws.
In response to the Report of the Senate Inquiry into ParentsNext, including its trial and subsequent broader rollout, a broad coalition of service providers, human rights bodies, peak bodies, researchers and advocates today calls time on ParentsNext.
The Morrison Government cannot delay scrapping its discriminatory ParentsNext program, with a Senate Inquiry finding that the program is causing “anxiety, distress and harm” for many parents, including for women escaping violence.
The Morrison Government has failed to sign on to an International Women’s Day statement at the United Nations calling for access to safe abortions, comprehensive sexuality education and sexual reproductive health.
On International Women’s Day the UN will hear that the Australian Government is penalising single mothers with babies as young as six months through a punitive program that is making life harder for parents.
The safety, wellbeing and dignity of women seeking reproductive health care in Western Australia will be at risk over the next 40 days, as anti-abortionists commence a 40 day picket for Lent.
Doctors, lawyers, healthcare groups and domestic violence services joined community organisations today to deliver an open letter calling for the NSW Parliament to recognise the right to safe and legal abortion access in the state.
A bill tabled in the South Australian Parliament today would promote the right of all South Australians to control their bodies by removing abortion from the state’s criminal statute books. (Photo credit: Sharise Birse)
Queensland women will finally have the freedom to decide what is right for their bodies with the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 coming into force today.
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.
This week saw a big win for women's rights in Australia in the High Court. It is an historic step forward in the long journey for reproductive freedom for women in Australia. It's also a timely reminder of how far we have to go.
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.