New South Wales decriminalizes abortion

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Friday, September 27, 2019

Yesterday, the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW), Australia voted to pass the "Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019" which decriminalized abortion. Until the new legislation, NSW had the most restrictive anti-abortion law in Australia. The NSW legislature in Sydney abolished any existing common law rules about abortion and legalized terminations up to week 22 of a pregnancy.

Greenwich celebrating marriage equality in 2017
Image: EqualityCWiki.

Since 1900, under the state's criminal code, abortions were only allowed if a doctor determined the mother was in danger, either mentally or physically. The bill was drafted by Alex Greenwich who said on the parliament floor, "It follows decades of work from women's rights campaigners, activists and people in the Parliament". The upper house debate involved 102 amendments, and was amongst the longest they have ever debated a bill.

Member of parliament (MP) Kevin Conolly said a law allowing the termination of a life marked a "sad day for NSW". Former prime minister Tony Abbott said, "It is a license for sex-selection abortions. It is a license for late-term abortion [...] It is effectively infanticide on demand."

MP Penny Sharpe, who co-sponsored the bill, said, "The current law has meant women and doctors have a threat of 10 years in jail for making this decision and that's not okay". Early opponent MP Tanya Davies said, "We have moved the bill to a better place".

Premier Gladys Berejiklian was not present at the bill's final vote.

New South Wales is the most populated Australian state. The state of South Australia still limits abortions to cases with two doctors' approval.


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