A landmark bill to legalise abortion in Queensland has today been introduced in State Parliament.
The Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 is based on the Queensland Law Reform Commission’s detailed review of current legislation, and repeals sections of the Criminal Code which currently make terminations a crime.
While introducing the bill on Wednesday, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath asked for people to remain “respectful” when discussing the topic.
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“I realise this is a highly emotive issue, but I once again appeal for the debate to remain reasonable, informed and above all else, respectful,” Mrs D’Ath said.
Under the new laws, women would be able to ask to terminate pregnancies up to 22 weeks, or after that with the approval from two doctors.
The Bill also includes measures to ensure reasonable and safe access to termination services, by establishing “safe access zones” of 150m around abortion clinics.
Queensland is one of two states in the country that still prohibit abortion, the other is NSW.
“The Palaszczuk Government is proud to introduce this Bill today, delivering on our election commitment to modernise and clarify the laws so that the issue is no longer treated as a crime, but as a health issue,” Mrs D’Ath said.
“These are significant and historic reforms to bring Queensland’s laws into the 21st century, and provide clarity and certainty for women, health professionals, and the community.”
Mrs D’Ath told Parliament that Queensland’s current laws create uncertainty among doctors about their obligations and liability.
“The possibility of criminal prosecution of both health professionals and women impedes the provision of a full range of safe, accessible and timely reproductive services for Queensland women,” she said.
“This, in turn, leads to fear and stigma at a time when an incredibly difficult choice is being made.”
The Bill will now be considered by the parliamentary health committee with public submissions to open in the near future.
It comes after Health and Ambulance Services Minister Steven Miles today launched a fact check website to “debunk misconceptions surrounding the termination of pregnancy.”
Minister Miles said the Fact Checker would help Queenslanders “form an educated opinion on termination” and a “greater understanding of why it should be made a health issue.”
“The termination of pregnancy is a health issue and we want Queenslanders to have the facts – just like any other medical procedure,” Mr Miles said.
You can view the Fact Checker here.