Fury At New Abortion Law

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
19 Jul 2018

Queensland Parliament House

New South Wales is set to be the only state in Australia where abortion will still technically remain against the law, with the Queensland government poised to decriminalise abortion in that state as early as October.

Laws that would make abortion legal - even up to birth - will be put before Queensland Parliament as soon as next month.

While abortion is technically illegal in Queensland, the prohibition against it is not enforced, with the Queensland Law Reform Commission estimating that between 10,000 and 14,000 babies are aborted in the state each year.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed on Monday that the cabinet and the Labor caucus had approved the introduction of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 into Parliament on the week of 16 August, 2018.

Premier Palaszczuk described the existing law as "archaic" and the agreement to introduce and debate the bill as a proud day.

"This is a very proud day for me to be able to stand here to say that this is a health issue for a woman," she said.
"It is not for me to tell another woman what to do when she is confronted by these health issues. It is a matter between her and her doctor.

"This is about bringing Queensland into the 21st century. For so long, this archaic law has sat on our statute books ... I'm very proud that a cabinet of 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men considered this issue today.

"I'm also very humbled that our caucus has endorsed the bringing forward of this bill."

A report from the Queensland Law Reform Commission, tabled in Parliament on Monday, recommended that the criminal prohibition against abortion be repealed and new legislation, in the form of the draft Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018, should be introduced.

If passed, the new law would repeal current criminal offences relating to abortion, and permit a medical practitioner to abort a child for any reason up to 22 weeks.  After 22 weeks gestation, an abortion can still be performed if two medical practitioners consider that the abortion should be performed, having regard to all relevant medical circumstances, the woman's current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances, and professional standards and guidelines applicable to abortion.

Similar to abortion laws in Victoria and Tasmania, health practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion will still be forced to participate in the process by referring a woman seeking abortion to another health practitioner who does not have such an objection. 

In addition, the law will impose exclusion zones around abortion clinics, punishing with up to 12 months imprisonment anyone who engages in any conduct that relates or could be perceived to relate to abortion, that can be seen or heard by anyone entering or leaving an abortion clinic, and that would be reasonably likely to deter them from requesting or undergoing an abortion.

The breadth of this definition would mean that silent prayers (if visible) or offers of assistance to vulnerable, pregnant women would now be criminal offences.

Premier Palaszczuk has confirmed that Labor MPs will be afforded a conscience vote on the bill. 

Opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, told reporters that she would give party members an opportunity to review the draft legislation before making any rash statements.

The bill will be debated in the week of 16 October 2018.