Time to de-criminalise abortion in Queensland?
Women in Queensland, Australia, are forgoing food and delaying bills to pay for abortions as costs remain in the hundreds of dollars despite the introduction of an abortion drug, a national study reveals.
Researchers led by La Trobe University's Judith Lumley Centre delved into the experiences of women who had medical or surgical abortions through a private group of clinics and found a third suffered financial difficulties as a result, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Abortion remains part of criminal law in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Those seeking access in other states and territories continue to face financial and physical barriers, particularly in regional areas.
In Queensland, abortion is generally regarded as lawful if performed to prevent serious danger to the woman's physical or mental health, despite abortion being contained in the Criminal Code. Women and doctors can be criminally prosecuted for unlawfully accessing or providing abortion
Currently, the average cost of surgical abortion in NSW is approximately $380 - $800 Australian dollars.
In NSW, Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi's Abortion Law Reform bill, if passed, will remove abortion from the Crimes Act and enforce safe access zones around clinics to prevent harassment of patients (in line with Victorian and Tasmanian law).
In Queensland, Independent MP Rob Pyne is pushing for similar changes, with two bills going to the vote on March 1.
"We really need Queensland and Australian women to get behind this campaign so that women can have control of their own reproductive health," Mr Pyne told Green Left Weekly. "We need to let our MPs know just how much support there is to take abortion out of the criminal law."
Over 80 per cent of Australians think a woman should have the right to choose whether she terminates a pregnancy or not, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
However, more than 25,000 people have signed a petition to oppose Independent MP Rob Pyne's move to remove abortion from the state's criminal code.
Cherish Life Queensland, which organised a 'March for Life' in Brisbane recently, says abortion shouldn't be decriminalised among concerns about the door being left open to late-term terminations.
"It (decriminalisation) would be a concern because at the end of the day we do believe that life begins at the moment of conception," spokesman Chris Da Silva said.