Australia’s Most Populous State Decriminalized Abortion

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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Lawmakers voted to overturn a 119-year-old law and decriminalize abortion in Australia’s most populous state Thursday.

New South Wales (NSW) lawmakers voted to pass the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019, a bill that allows women to abort their unborn babies up until 22 weeks of pregnancy.  The bill intends to reform “the law relating to terminations of pregnancies and regulating the conduct of health practitioners in relation to terminations,” according to legislative text.

“For feminists across New South Wales, we have finally achieved a historic milestone for this state,” Labor Party Member of NSW Parliament Jo Haylen said Thursday. “Women in New South Wales will no longer fear prosecution or imprisonment when they make decisions about their lives and their bodies. This is 119 years overdue.”

“Women will now have autonomy over their bodies [and] healthcare,” tweeted Family Planning NSW. (RELATED: Pregnant Woman Goes To Clinic. Doctor Reportedly Performs Abortion On Her By Accident)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Pro-Life protestors demonstrating on August 20, 2019 in Martin Place, Sydney, Australia. The protesters oppose the NSW abortion bill which will decriminalise Abortion. The rally organisers say it will allow abortion for any reason until birth and won’t prevent sex selection terminations. A vote on the bill was planned to take place this week but has been delayed until the Mid September. (Photo by James Gourley/Getty Images)

Anti-abortion protesters demonstrating on Aug. 20, 2019 in Martin Place, Sydney, Australia. (Photo by James Gourley/Getty Images)

A woman in NSW who obtained an “unlawful abortion” previously might have served 10 years in prison under the Crimes Act if she performed her own abortion, CNN reported. Doctors could declare an abortion a “lawful abortion” if the health or mental well-being of the mother was at risk.

The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill allows on demand abortions up until 22 weeks of pregnancy. Two specialized medical practitioners must sign off on the abortion if a woman wants to obtain an abortion after 22 weeks.

Abortion is decriminalized in every part of Australia except South Australia, where abortion laws are under review, according to CNN.

“And there you go folks Abortion has finally been [decriminalized] everywhere in Australia …. oh yeah except here in South Australia!” the South Australia Abortion Action Coalition tweeted. “Congratulations NSW now let’s get this done here.”

The Catholic archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, spoke out against the new bill.

The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill “may be the worst law passed in New South Wales in modern times,” Fisher said, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott also opposed the bill, CNN reported.

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