Queensland abortion reforms scrapped

Independent Queensland MP Rob Pyne has withdrawn his abortion reform bills from state parliament, shelving the issue until after the next election.

Independent Cairns MP Rob Pyne

Independent Queensland MP Rob Pyne has withdrawn his abortion reform bills from state parliament. (AAP)

Abortion will remain in Queensland's criminal code until at least next year after independent MP Rob Pyne agreed to withdraw his two private members bills from state parliament.

There were concerns the bills, as they stood, would introduce legal complications for women and their doctors, especially if one was passed while the other failed.

The bills had been scheduled to be debated on Wednesday evening, but Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls late on Monday announced the Liberal National Party had decided to vote against them.

Labor pledged to allow its MPs a conscience vote, but given its minority government status, the bills were unlikely to succeed.

The government will now send the bills to the Queensland Law Reform Commission, which will make recommendations based on the proposed legislation.

Labor has promised to introduce legislation based on the QLRC's recommendations in the next term of parliament if it is re-elected.

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, a strong proponent of abortion reform, said referring the issue to the commission was the sensible option in the circumstances.

"There is always a way to ensure good legislation is passed by the Queensland parliament," Ms Trad said.

"What is only available to the government and the women of Queensland now is that we refer this to the law reform commission and we consider any recommendations that are made and that we seek to bring back a bill to modernise Queensland's abortion laws."

Mr Pyne said he didn't view the withdrawal of the bills as a failure.

"I am fairly confident the recommendations that come back will be similar to what is in my bills," he said.

Sian Tooker, a counsellor with pro-choice organisation Children by Choice, said the decision was disappointing.

"While we're waiting for the commission to conclude their inquiry, nothing changes for Queensland women," Ms Tooker said.

"Already this week we've had to support a woman who has been denied an abortion by her public hospital, despite having a potentially life-threatening pregnancy.

"These situations will continue to arise while we wait for a legislative resolution."

Pro-life advocates have hailed the decision to back away from the bills as a major victory.

Cherish Life president Julie Borger said the bills were defeated because they were fatally flawed.

"These bills totally overlooked safeguards for women such as independent counselling, informed consent, cooling-off periods and parental consent requirements, which the vast majority of Queenslanders support," Ms Borger said

"This sensitive issue is so important and complex that it demands a proper and balanced review, not just by a group of lawyers, but by a panel of experts from both sides of the debate."

3 min read
Published 28 February 2017 at 5:40pm
Source: AAP