The Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill 2016 is expected to be debated from 9.30am this morning in the Upper House of NSW Parliament.
The bill has been put forward by Greens NSW Spokesperson for the Status of Women, Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC and is the first time in over 100 years that the NSW Parliament will debate the decriminalisation of abortion. The bill puts forward the removal of Division 12, Sections 82, 83, 84 from the NSW Crimes Act and enactment of safe access zones outside reproductive health clinics.
‘When I came to NSW Parliament, I was shocked to see that there had never been an attempt to modernise abortion laws in this state – especially when states all around the country were and are doing so,’ Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC.
‘The Abortion Law Reform bill 2016 is the first ever bill introduced into NSW parliament to decriminalise abortion and create safe access zones around reproductive health clinics. It is a sad fact that in 2017 abortion still sits in Division 12 of the NSW Crimes Act 1900.’
The Northern Territory, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania have already reformed their abortion laws.
‘The people of NSW also deserve the same rights to bodily autonomy and access to reproductive health services free from criminality and in safety and medical privacy,’ continued Dr Faruqi.
The vote on the abortion bill will be a conscience vote across all parties.
‘It is a NSW State bill,’ said Federal MP Justine Elliot.
‘My position for a long time has been in favour of decriminalisation and that abortion should be safe and legal.’
Research in NSW indicates that there is significant community support for the decriminalisation of abortion. The 73 per cent of people in NSW support decriminalisation of abortion and 81per cent support the enactment of exclusion zones.
Numbers are even higher in rural and regional areas, which have shown more support for abortion law reform. The Australian Election Study in 2016 found that nearly 70 per cent of Australians believe abortion should be readily available to women.
‘We know that there is immense support for this reform,’ said Dr Faruqi. ‘Since the introduction of the Abortion Law Reform bill last year, the momentum to support the bill has become pretty huge and we now have endorsements from RANZCOG, White Ribbon, NSW Nurses and Midwives association, Public Health Association of Australia, NTEU NSW, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, NSW Teachers Federation, Family Planning NSW, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights and Marie Stopes.
There is also an open letter to MPs in NSW Parliament that hundreds of doctors have signed and one that over 100 criminology and law academics have signed in support of the bill.’
Dr Faruqi has been travelling around the state to many rural and regional areas including Wagga, Albury, Bega and Byron to discuss the bill.
‘Access (in regional areas) is a real issue and the few clinics that do exist have regular groups of so-called protestors harassing staff and patients. This is an absolute disgrace and it’s unacceptable.
‘Please write to or phone your MPs in both houses of Parliament and let them know how important this reform is.’
Go to END12 to take action.
The Echo contacted local Nationals Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, Ben Franklin, for comment but we did not receive a reply before going to print.