South Australia (SA) is the latest Australian jurisdiction to formally decriminalise abortion, after the state's upper house passed new laws on 3 March.
The passing of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill came quickly after the lower house passed the legislation 29 votes to 15 in February. It was then sent back to the upper house for final approval, where it was passed.
Under the changes, abortion will be treated as a healthcare issue, not a criminal one, in line with other states including Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the passage of the legislation was a "historic day for the women of South Australia". "This legislation makes explicit the higher standard of medical care and decision making that already exists in South Australia."
Jamal Hakim, Managing Director, Marie Stopes Australia said the Bill is an important step towards ensuring everyone has equal access to healthcare, when and where they need it.
The Bill was subject to a conscience vote in both houses with MPs opposed to the legislation successfully securing a number of amendments. These included a ban on sex-selective abortion and a requirement every patient be provided with information about counselling, regardless of their situation. While we oppose these amendments, we welcome the opportunity for increased access to abortion care.
We are grateful to SA Health and the Marshall Government for their support of the Bill. Over the coming months and years, we look forward to supporting SA health policy development and implementation.
The fight to modernise these laws has been going for decades. We acknowledge and thank all of those who have collaborated for bodily autonomy and reproductive justice, including the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition, Fair Agenda, and the Human Rights Law Centre.
The Human Rights Law Centre said the passage of the bill in SA means only Western Australia still uses criminal law to regulate abortion.
It is now time for the Parliament of Western Australia to follow in the footsteps of South Australia and bring their laws into line with every other jurisdiction in the country by removing all barriers to timely reproductive healthcare and implement safe access zones to protect patients and healthcare workers.
Jamal Hakim, Managing Director
“The passing of the Bill is a step towards modernising the State’s laws, will provide certainty for healthcare professionals, and will stop treating women and pregnant people seeking abortion care as criminals.”
“Thank you to the courageous and compassionate politicians who spoke out for this historic legislative reform. We now turn to WA to advocate for the implementation of the Safe Access Zones around abortion clinics”
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For further information or to interview Jamal Hakim contact, Marie Stopes Australia, 0428 396 391
Marie Stopes Australia is a national not for profit provider of sexual and reproductive health services including permanent and long-acting reversible contraception and abortion care. For more information on our clinic network visit mariestopes.org.au.