On 10 May 2016 Independent MP for Cairns, Mr Rob Pyne introduced the Abortion Law Reform (Woman’s Right to Choose) Amendment Bill into the Queensland Parliament. The bill proposes the removal of existing safeguards for women and the unborn child. Instead, it proposes abortion on demand for any reason until birth without any reference to gestational timeframes or informed consent. After examining all the evidence, the Queensland Parliament Health Committee recommended that this bill not be passed.
On 16 August 2016, Mr Pyne introduced a second bill - the Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill. This bill attempts to deceive the public by including a supposed restriction on abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, but this provision has no penalty and is so loose that it still allows abortions until birth. At the same time, it would criminalise peaceful protests outside abortion facilities. Together, these two bills are almost as bad as the Victorian decriminalisation law of 2008.
The second bill is currently undergoing evaluation by the Health Committee, which is due to report by .Both bills are expected to be voted on by Parliament by March 2017 or earlier.
At the present time, a woman in Queensland can access an abortion at one of 10 private clinics, under an interpretation by the court which allows abortion where there is a serious risk to the physical or mental health of a woman. While no doubt most of these abortions are actually unlawful, given they are being performed on healthy women as evidenced by their outpatient status, the law turns a “blind eye”. With more than 10,000 abortions occurring in Queensland each year (according to Medicare figures), it is disingenuous therefore for abortion advocates and Mr Pyne to suggest that women in Queensland cannot readily access abortion in the State.
The proposed bill to widen the grounds for legal abortion in Queensland is a backward step. It flies in the face of best medical practice that the Queensland Parliament would consider repealing the existing law, which allows for legal abortions where there is a medical reason. Currently, in many nations around the world, significant moves are being taken to turn back abortion legislation. We see examples of this particularly as the time of viability when the child is capable of surviving outside the womb, becomes earlier and earlier. For example, in Utah this year the ‘foetal pain abortion law’ was passed which will now require doctors to provide anaesthesia to babies being aborted at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later.
In Australia, abortion affects one in three women. Sometimes abortion is put forward, even taken for granted, as a 'solution' to the most difficult situations. However, we cannot disregard the fact that this choice involves the taking of an innocent life. Compassionate care for women and the unborn child does not involve providing terminations up to the time of natural birth which is what these bills would allow.