News State QLD News Queensland to consider abortion bill

Queensland to consider abortion bill

Queensland Labor
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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.

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

The bill does not contain provisions to prevent late-term abortions but Mr Pyne said he would be open to amendments.

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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.

“It’s not 1899, abortion should not be a crime,” Mr Pyne said.

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

“The world is changing very quickly and unfortunately our politicians aren’t,” he said.

Lisa Carey from not-for-profit women’s lobby group Emily’s List Australia said Mr Pyne’s bill would likely gain support from some Government MPs.

Emily’s List supports progressive female Labor candidates trying to reach Parliament.

“We certainly have a few members of the State Government and they will be supporting the woman’s right to choose,” Ms Carey said.

“It’s definitely a progressive step; having legislation that came into being in 1899 when we’re actually using medicine which is so much more advanced and women’s rights have advanced in that time.”

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, an Emily’s List member, has not confirmed whether she would support Mr Pyne’s bill.

“The Labor Party has a very longstanding firm view on this — this is about a conscience vote,” she said.

“Every single member of the Australian Labor Party has a conscience vote on this matter.”

LNP will consider bill: Nicholls

Mr Nicholls said the LNP was yet to formulate its position.

“We haven’t even seen the legislation yet so asking someone how they’re going to vote without even seeing the legislation I think is a bit premature,” he said.

“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.”

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.

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

No provision yet to prevent late-term abortion

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.

Mr Pyne said he was assisted by campaigner and James Cook University obstetrics professor, Dr Caroline de Costa.

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