A bill decriminalising abortion in South Australia is now before state parliament

South Australia is moving to reform abortion laws, with MPs to get a conscience vote on proposals to remove it from the criminal statutes.

South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chapman

South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chapman Source: AAP

A bill to reform South Australia's abortion laws has gone before parliament which seeks to treat it solely as a health issue and not a criminal one.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman says the legislation involves a new, highly regulated, medical model that will govern the termination of pregnancies.

"Our proposal removes abortion entirely from the criminal law, a move that would bring us in line with all other Australian states and territories," Ms Chapman said on Wednesday.

"This is based on the understanding that it is a medical procedure which should be treated like any other health issue."

Under the proposed laws, an abortion can be performed by one medical practitioner up to 22 weeks and six days gestation.

After that period, a medical practitioner can only perform an abortion if they consult with another practitioner and if both are of the view that the procedure is medically appropriate.

Ms Chapman said it was time for South Australia to deal with the issue of abortion in a "modern and contemporary way".

The bill was introduced into the state's upper house by Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink who said it was time for reform.

"For too long this legislation has been governed by the criminal code," she said.

The Australian Medical Association said it strongly supported the legislative change which would not result in an increase in the number of abortions.

"This is a women's health issue and for too long I've seen women who are really damaged, hurt and going through traumatic decisions," AMA state president Chris Moy said.

"To have the burden of criminalisation is inappropriate and must end."

The bill will be subject to a conscience vote of MPs in both the upper house and in the House of Assembly.

"The current bill goes right back to 1969 and really lags behind best practice across the country," the premier said.

But he said he would also wait to see the form of the bill presented to the assembly before making a final decision.

2 min read
Published 14 October 2020 at 5:42pm
Source: AAP, SBS