In extremely encouraging news to date, the push to overturn the “grey area” in abortion laws in NSW has been passed in the NSW State Parlaiment Lower House.

The historic bill, which aims to decriminalise abortion in NSW to bring the state into line with abortion law in Queensland and Victoria, was passed in the Lower House late at night on Thursday, August 8, 2019.

The bill aims to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act. If entered into law, it would classify abortion as a medical procedure, and as such, abortion would have its own legislation. The amended law would allow for access to abortion on request within the first 22 weeks of pregnancy. Beyond 22 weeks’ gestation, abortion would be accessible with the provision that the abortion is approved by two independent doctors.

Fierce Debate

The bill has been debated fiercely to date – with MPs verbalising their own opinions and indicating their reasons for their feelings with regards to supporting or rejecting the bill.

The bill was amended from its original form to bolster protections for both informed consent as well as issues relating to a doctor’s conscientious objection to performing or recommending the procedure. This was required by some MPs to give them the “additional confidence” to vote on the bill. The amendments also specify that doctors must consider whether a woman seeking an abortion requires counselling and that late-term abortions may only be performed in approved public facilities and by specialist doctors who have the specific training and experience required to do so. The Australian Medical Association has confirmed that it does not support some of these amendments.

Support for the Bill

The bill was originally introduced to the house by MP Alex Greenwich (Independent) alongside fifteen co-sponsors. Health Minister Brad Hazzard was among those actively seeking change. It received 59 votes in favour with 31 votes against.

Supporters of the bill included NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro, and Opposition Leader Jodi McKay. Those who voted against the bill included seven Liberal Party Ministers, including Planning Minister Rob Stokes and Attorney General / Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman.

A Woman’s Reproductive Right

NSW is the last Australian state to have women and doctors bound by this archaic and outdated legislation.

Current abortion laws in NSW have remained unchanged since they were first entered into law almost one hundred and twenty years ago. For more than a century, a woman’s reproductive rights have been dictated by another time in our history – laws enlisted in the criminal code and enacted by all-male legislators. There has been no alteration or consideration in that time for changes to society, to medical advancements, or to women’s human rights.

Next Steps

The bill must now be debated in the Upper House, where it needs to be passed for abortion laws in NSW to be amended. It is due to be considered by a Legislative Council during the week of August 12 2019, with voting on the issue expected during the week of August 19.

Gynaecology Centres Australia

Gynaecology Centres Australia not only provides abortions for unwanted pregnancies and miscarriages, but also women’s health services and vasectomies. We have five clinics located throughout NSW. For compassionate and confidential advice, to get more information, or to locate your nearest clinic, contact us today via our “Contact Us” page on our website.