News State QLD News Queensland parliament votes to decriminalise abortion

Queensland parliament votes to decriminalise abortion

People at a rally in Brisbane before the proposed changes to Queensland's abortion laws. Photo: AAP
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Queensland women have been granted the right to opt for an abortion after the state’s parliament voted to abolish the nineteenth-century laws which made terminations illegal.

The law changes passed state parliament 50 votes to 41 on Wednesday night after a two-day long debate.

Under the changes, abortion will be removed from the criminal code and made a health issue. 

Women will be allowed to terminate pregnancies up to 22 weeks’ gestation with the approval of two independent doctors.

The changes also establish safe zones around clinics and medical facilities offering the procedure to stop staff and patients being harassed by anti-abortion activists.

Both the government and opposition had granted their MPs a free vote ahead of the debate.

Queensland members who voted in favour of the abortion reform laws included opposition MPs Steve Minnikin, Jann Stuckey and former opposition leader Tim Nicholls. Labor’s Linus Power abstained from voting.

Katter’s Australian Party’s three MPs and One Nation MP Stephen Andrew voted against the changes, while Greens MP Michael Berkman and independent Noosa MP Sandy Bolton voted for them.

“Safe access zones” will be established around termination clinics to prevent protesters hassling women. Photo: AAP

Speaking during the debate, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the laws offered parliament a chance to make history.

“Because I believe, and I have always believed, a woman should be able to talk to her doctor about her own health and her own body without it being a crime,” the premier said.

Labor MPs Jess Pugh and Melissa McMahon shared stories of miscarriages they had suffered, in arguing for women to have autonomy over their own bodies.

While LNP member Ted Sorenson broke down in tears on Tuesday evening when detailing how he was adopted, and labelled the laws the “kill Ted bill.”

Speaking against the changes, the LNP’s Mark McArdle, who introduced a number of amendments to the legislation which were struck down, summed up the feelings of many LNP MPs when he said he didn’t believe abortion should be in the criminal code, but also felt the proposed laws went too far.

“On the balance of the bill, I have to say I cannot support it for a fundamental number of reasons,” Mr McArdle said.

Before the debate began, it was revealed the LNP Pine Rivers state electorate council emailed MPs warning them they faced preselection challenges if they voted for the legislation.

It follows reports last month LNP President Gary Spence had warned his MPs they could face preselection challenges if they voted for the changes.

-With AAP