Rob Pyne, independent Member for Cairns, is inviting the Queensland community to start the conversation around the outdated abortion laws currently in place in Queensland.
‘The Abortion Law Reform (Women's Right to Choose) Bill 2016 I am tabling to Parliament this week as a Private Members Bill is the first step in moving Queensland into a more progressive position.
This Bill is a straight decimalisation bill, removing the risk of prosecution for the medical teams and women. Our current legislation was created in 1899, and a lot has changed since then.’ Rob says.
‘This Bill has academic, medical and community support from all across the state. With the introduction of this bill, we join NSW in having this debate around public policy. We are the last two states to not have updated legislation that meets the changes in our evolving community.’
‘I’d like to keep the message clear about this Bill – this is a clear step to protect vulnerable Queensland women and the doctors that are risking prosecution to assist them.’ Rob says.
The current law in Queensland is causing great hardship and personal suffering. Children by Choice manager Amanda Bradley told the Brisbane Times: “We get reports of self-abortion, some women we speak to say if I can't get an abortion I will do it myself.” Children by Choice received 118 contacts relating to self-abortion or threats of self-abortion in the past year.
This bill would not only help those women, but also our Queensland doctors. Dr, Carolyn De Costa told the Cairns Post that Queensland doctors continued providing abortions despite risking prosecution under ambiguous laws. She said, “It's done knowing that there is case law to protect you, if you are charged — but also knowing that it's unlawful. This is the only health procedure that is dealt with like this in criminal legislation. It's way, way out of date and belongs in the 19th century. We're practising medicine in the 21st century.”
There is more work to be done following the tabling of this legislation. Children by Choice have reported that information around choices in pregnancy is very problematic, and we also need to include an exclusion zone around surgeries so women can access without interruption.
Tasmania has legislated for 150m exclusion zones, and Dr Mehreen Faruqi in NSW is lobbying for the same. Queensland has not seen many issues, however, preventative action would be more useful than having our first major issues.