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Monday, May 9, 2016

Queensland Bill Would Legalize Abortion Up To 9 Months



Queensland abortion bill: MP says procedure
'should not be a crime'

By Josh Bavas and Louisa Rebgetz

A private member's bill to legalise abortion for women up to nine months' pregnant in Queensland will be tabled in State Parliament today by independent MP Rob Pyne.

This story is particularly close to my heart as one of my granddaughters just gave birth to two babies at only 32 weeks - that's 7 months. They are both health and happy and growing. How can killing a viable baby after 6 or 7 months be anything but first degree murder?

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the LNP partyroom would consider the bill, while Labor MPs would be allowed a conscience vote.

Rob Pyne
Rob Pyne said he was committed to progressive change.
(Supplied: Queensland Labor)
The bill does not contain provisions to prevent late-term abortions but Mr Pyne said he would be open to amendments.

The Member for Cairns, who resigned from the ALP in March, said he was drawn into politics to make progressive changes in the state.

"It's not 1899, abortion should not be a crime," Mr Pyne said.

"The world is changing very quickly and unfortunately our politicians aren't."

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has not confirmed whether she would support Mr Pyne's bill was for a conscience vote.

"Every single member of the Australian Labor Party has a conscience vote on this matter," she said.

Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the LNP was yet to formulate its position.

"We'll be looking at it and we'll be considering it in the partyroom as we always do with these important issues to Queenslanders," he said.

Mr Pyne said he had the support of fellow crossbench MP Billy Gordon, while Shane Knuth and Rob Katter were yet to make their views clear.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman, and Leader of the House, Stirling Hinchliffe, this morning attended a rally outside Parliament House in support of change.

Open to amendments to prevent late-term abortion

The Queensland Criminal Code has prohibited abortion since 1899, but case law based on a 1986 ruling means abortions are permissible if there is serious danger to the mother's life or her physical or mental health.

Amendments introduced in 2009 also allowed for surgical and medical (or chemical) abortions in Queensland.

In New South Wales, an abortion is only lawful if a woman's doctor believes on reasonable grounds it is necessary to avoid a serious danger to her life or her physical or mental health, taking into account economic, social and medical factors.

The ACT, Victoria and Tasmania have all decriminalised abortion, making it legal up to nine months' gestation.

However, late-term abortions in Tasmania, defined as past four months, and Victoria, where late-term is classed beyond six months, require approval from two medical practitioners.

Mr Pyne said his bill did not include any such provisions.

"It may be that, as part of the committee process and as part of this bill going through, that either of the major parties or anyone may move amendments and I'd be happy to look at those," he said.

The bill will go to a parliamentary committee for consideration before being presented to Parliament for debate.

Pre-teens seek abortions in private hospitals

Emily's List supports progressive female Labor candidates trying to reach Parliament, Ms Trad is a member.

"We certainly have a few members of the State Government and they will be supporting the woman's right to choose," Lisa Carey from the group said.

Queensland counselling service Children by Choice said about two children under 14 were seeking advice about an abortion every month.

Last month a 12-year-old Rockhampton girl was forced to go to the Supreme Court to get permission to have one done.

Counsellor Liz Price said most of the abortions are happening in private hospitals as current laws make it too difficult to use the public system.

"We see access significantly compounded for under 14-year-olds," she said.

"There are only two private clinics in all of Queensland that have a licence that allows them to perform procedures of that nature on an under 14-year-old one in the far north of Queensland and one down here in south east Queensland."