Australia

'Time has come': Historic vote set to decriminalise abortion in NSW

A protester holds a placard during the Our Body Our Choice march in Sydney, earlier this month. Source: AAP

Abortions could be decriminalised and regulated as a medical procedure in NSW under legislation set to be introduced to state parliament this week.

A private members bill which could see abortions decriminalised and regulated as a medical procedure in NSW will be introduced to parliament this week.

Currently abortions in the state are dealt with under the Crimes Act 1900.

NSW could be set to change its abortion laws that reach back to 1900.
NSW could be set to change its abortion laws that reach back to 1900.
AAP

The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019 will be introduced by independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich.

Under the bill, a woman would not commit an offence if she procures a termination within the framework provided.

It would also repeal provisions of the Crimes Act relating to abortions and common law offences relating to abortion.

The bill would allow for terminations for women up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, and after this time if two doctors believe it should be performed considering medical, physical, social and psychological circumstances.

It would also create a new criminal offence under the Crimes Act for those who assist in terminations who are not authorised to do so - attracting a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019 will be introduced by independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich.
The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019 will be introduced by independent MP for Sydney, Alex Greenwich.
AAP

"The bill ensures women in NSW have access to safe and lawful terminations without the threat of criminal convictions and provides doctors with the legal clarity they have long sought," Mr Greenwich said on Sunday.

Based on laws in Queensland and Victoria, the bill is supported by the Australian Medical Association NSW and the NSW Pro-Choice Alliance.

It was developed by a cross-party working group with the oversight of Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

Mr Hazzard on Sunday said doctors have had to make decisions based on interpretations of the courts as to what the law allows which "always leaves open the possibility" that the doctor or the woman may be convicted under the Crimes Act.

MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich, NSW Pro-choice Alliance Chair Wendy McCarthy and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announce the motion.
MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich, NSW Pro-choice Alliance Chair Wendy McCarthy and NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announce the motion.
AAP

Women should have the "absolute clarity of black and white legislation" around the issue as they do in some other states and territories, he said.

"I believe the time has come for us to be respectful in the debate but to also recognise that it's time for change," Mr Hazzard said.

While there will be "people who have very strong views" in the parliament, Mr Hazzard says he's sure these will be expressed "carefully and respectfully".

He believes there will be a conscience vote on the bill and hopes it receives the approval of parliament.

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