The New South Wales is one step closer to decriminalising abortion after the Lower House voted last night in favour of stripping the procedure from the Crimes Act.
ABC reports the Legislative Assembly voted 59 – 31 in favour of the Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019, which was introduced by independent MP Alex Greenwich to formally declare abortion a medical procedure and not a criminal offence.
“Our legal framework is no longer fit for purpose,” Greenwich told the Lower House last night.
“The law does not treat women with dignity or trust them to make decisions about their bodies, their life and their health care.
“This reform is long overdue; now is the time to decriminalise abortion in our law and give clarity to the medical profession, women and the wider community.”
The bill was supported by members including Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian and bill co-sponsor Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who said Parliament has “the opportunity to right a wrong that was enacted into law 119 years ago.”
It was passed following successful amendments involving informed consent, the provision of counselling, and allowances for doctors with objections to performing the procedure.
Despite those amendments, Greenwich said they did not represent “real substantial changes” to the bill.
While abortion is currently illegal in NSW, people who seek medical terminations can be undergo ‘lawful’ abortions if a doctor decides a patient’s mental or physical wellbeing would be seriously impacted by a pregnancy.
Reproductive health advocates argue that restriction is archaic, stigmatises people who seek abortions, and inhibits reproductive freedom.
The bill will head to the Upper House in the coming days and is projected to face a final vote before the end of the month. Expect debate from opponents to ramp up in the days to come.