Last updated September 26, 2019 at 4:42 pm
It took a marathon debate and weeks of protest, but a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW has finally been passed.
Why This Matters: Giving women control over their own bodies affects everyone.
Abortion has been decriminalised in NSW after the controversial Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 passed its final hurdle of the lower house this morning.
“With the passing of this bill, our parliament affirms that we trust women,” Labor MP and bill co-sponsor Jo Haylen said just before the final vote.
“We trust women to make decisions about their own lives and about their own bodies.”
Amendments are more conservative than original bill
More than 100 amendments were discussed in the upper house, which saw the passed bill to become more conservative than the original introduced in August by independent MP Alex Greenwich.
“With the passage of this bill abortion will be decriminalised in NSW — I am sorry that has taken us so long,” Greenwich said in a statement on Wednesday.
Three key aspects have remained from the original bill. These include removing abortion from the Crimes Act, allowing abortion up to 22-week gestation and allowing an abortion after 22 weeks with the approval of two “specialist medical practitioners”.
The amendments included a ban on sex-selective abortions and stricter regulation of late-term abortions. Also, all terminations after 22 weeks will now have to be performed in a public hospital.
The bill also means that it is a crime to coerce a person to either prevent or force them to have an abortion.
The laws around the country
NSW is the last state to decriminalise abortions – however the legislation and conditions around abortions varies from state to state.
The NSW legislation is based on the QLD bill, which passed last year, both allowing abortion until 22-week gestation. After which, it is legal with the approval of two doctors.
In Victoria the laws are similar, however it’s legal to 24 weeks, with two doctors’ approvals needed after.
Abortion remains in the criminal code in both South Australia and Western Australia in some form.
In South Australia, abortion is legal to 28 weeks but only if two doctors agree a woman’s physical or mental health is endangered by the pregnancy, or if there is a serious foetal abnormality.
While for those in Western Australia, it is legal up to 20 weeks, but women must be given the chance to participate in counselling before the termination can be performed.
Abortion is legal in the ACT, where general practitioners can prescribe abortion drugs.
In Tasmania, abortion is legal up to 16 weeks, beyond that the approval of two doctors are needed.
And finally, abortions in the Northern Territory is legal up to 14 weeks with one doctor’s approval. After that, abortion is legal up to 23 weeks with two doctors’ approvals. However, after 23 weeks abortions can not be performed unless it is to save a pregnant woman’s life.