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Abortions set to be decriminalised under proposed laws in NSW

Abortion could be decriminalised and pregnancy terminations could become a medical procedure under new proposed laws.

The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019, a private members bill, will be introduced to NSW parliament this week by independent MP Alex Greenwich.

The bill states that a woman does not commit an offence if she procures a termination within the framework provided in the legislation and would amend the offences listed under act.

Abortion rights could be decriminalised under proposed laws in New South Wales after the act was made a criminal offence in legislation dating back to 1900

The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019, a private members bill, will be introduced to parliament this week by independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich (Pictured)

The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019, a private members bill, will be introduced to parliament this week by independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich (Pictured)

It would allow for terminations on request for women up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

After this time, terminations would be lawful if two doctors believe it should be performed in light of future physical, social and psychological circumstances.

The bill would also create a new criminal offence under the Crimes Act for those who assist in terminations who are not authorised to do so – attracting a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

WHAT DOES THE PROPOSED BILL PUT FORWARD? 

The bill states that a woman does not commit an offence if she procures a termination within the framework provided in the legislation and would amend the offences listed under act.

It would allow for terminations on request for women up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

After this time, terminations would be lawful if two doctors believe it should be performed in light of future physical, social and psychological circumstances.

The bill would also create a new criminal offence under the Crimes Act for those who assist in terminations who are not authorised to do so – attracting a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

 

‘The bill ensures women in NSW have access to safe and lawful terminations without the threat of criminal convictions and provides doctors with the legal clarity they have long sought,’ Mr Greenwich said in a statement on Sunday.

Based on laws in Queensland and Victoria, the bill also has the support of Australian Medical Association NSW.

It was developed by a cross-party working group including the National’s Trevor Khan, and Labor’s Penny Sharpe and Jo Haylen, with the oversight of Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Mr Hazzard on Sunday said doctors have had to make decisions based on interpretations of the courts as to what the law allows which ‘always leaves open the possibility’ that the doctor or the woman may be convicted under the Crimes Act.

Women should have the ‘absolute clarity of black and white legislation’ around the issue as they do in some other states and territories, he told reporters in Sydney.

The bill states that a woman does not commit an offence if she procures a termination within the framework provided in the legislation and would amend the offences listed under act

The bill states that a woman does not commit an offence if she procures a termination within the framework provided in the legislation and would amend the offences listed under act

‘To think that there is somebody possibly today, possibly tomorrow, sitting in a doctor’s surgery and being told that, ‘your decision is not a health decision, it’s not your decision, it’s actually something that could see you have a criminal charge’ is just wrong,’ Mr Hazzard said.

‘I believe the time has come for us to be respectful in the debate but to also recognise that it’s time for change.’

While there will be ‘people who have very strong views’ in the parliament, Mr Hazzard says he’s sure these will be expressed ‘carefully and respectfully’.

‘Personally, people may not support for themselves an abortion or termination, that may be their decision. But what this bill does is allow others to have the right to have their termination irrespective of others’ views in a health framework.’

He believes there will be a conscience vote on the bill and hopes it receives the approval of parliament.

Based on laws in Queensland and Victoria, the bill also has the support of Australian Medical Association NSW

Based on laws in Queensland and Victoria, the bill also has the support of Australian Medical Association NSW

WHAT ARE ABORTION LAWS AROUND AUSTRALIA? 

NEW SOUTH WALES 

In New South Wales abortions are deemed illegal under the NSW Crimes Act 1900.

If an abortion is performed illegally the sentence is a maximum of ten years.

Abortions are considered if the doctor determines the woman’s mental and physical health is at risk. 

Economic and social factors are also taken into account.   

QUEENSLAND 

Abortions were removed from the criminal code in Queensland in 2018.

The new laws allowed abortions on request up to 22 weeks. After that a medical practitioner must consult another to determine an abortion should be performed.

Health practitioners who object to abortions must disclose this information.

A safe zone exists 150m around an abortion clinic.  

VICTORIA 

Victoria’s abortion laws allow for termination up to 24 weeks.

It is still legal after this but two doctors must determine if it is in the mother’s best interests based on her physical, social and mental wellbeing.  

The state also has a buffer zone preventing protestors within 150m of clinic. 

 AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Abortion is legal in the ACT and it must be provided by a doctor in a provided facility.  

TASMANA

Abortion was decrimalised in Tasmania in 2013, and women are able to access termination procedures until 16 weeks.

After 16 weeks a doctor – who consults another – can perform an abortion with the woman’s consent.

The doctors – with at least one specialising in obstetrics or gynaecology – must consider the woman’s wellbeing.

She does not need to referred to counselling.  

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

South Australia requires that two doctors agree a woman’s health – mental or physical – and before 28 weeks.

They must be performed in a prescribed facility and the woman must live in the state – however these can be overruled in an emergency.

A woman can be charged for getting an unlawful pregnancy.  

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Abortions are legal up to 20 weeks, however restrictions apply.

A woman must participate in counselling before she can terminate her pregnancy while a person under 16 must tell one parent.

After 20 weeks obtaining an abortion is restrictive – with the woman needing to obtain approval from at least two doctors from a panel of six. 

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Abortion is legal up to 23 weeks after it is approved by a medical practitioner.

Terminations before 14 weeks only one doctor needs to approve it. After that two doctors need to approve it.

Past 23 weeks pregnancy can be terminated if the woman’s life is at risk. 

The AMA said NSW was the last state in Australia to decriminalise abortion, placing women and doctors under a ‘different and stigmatised legal arrangement to other states’.

The bill ‘reflects the common law entitlements that currently exist, while removing the stigma and legal uncertainty associated with abortion being included in the Crimes Act,’ AMA NSW said in a statement.

The NSW Pro-Choice Alliance said it had been a ‘long road’.

‘Most significantly for women with unintended pregnancies but also for the health, legal, political and women’s services who have fought long and hard to see this law overturned in recent decades,’ the alliance’s chair Wendy McCarthy said in a statement.

Greens MP Jenny Leong congratulated those who had pushed for the reform.

‘It’s past time for women to have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. It’s time for abortion law reform,’ Ms Leong said in a statement.

The AMA said NSW was the last state in Australia to decriminalise abortion, placing women and doctors under a 'different and stigmatised legal arrangement to other states

The AMA said NSW was the last state in Australia to decriminalise abortion, placing women and doctors under a ‘different and stigmatised legal arrangement to other states

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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