Queensland is a step closer to decriminalising abortion, thanks to the LNP being granted a conscience vote.
At the moment, abortion in Queensland is technically illegal, and only becomes legal if it’s to “prevent serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health“. In practice, this means a lot of hoop-jumping and workarounds for women who are seeking a termination.
Legislation proposed by the Labor government would see abortion moved from criminal to health legislation, and make the procedure available at any point up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. After this, the law would require the person seeking the abortion to get approval from two different doctors.
Up until now, the LNP’s stance on abortion law has been conservative. The Queensland opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, has said that she is “not of a conscience” to support the new legislation, but MPs are allowed a conscience vote on matters of life and death. She said in a statement:
It has been a longstanding position of the LNP party room that matters about the creation and ending of life are treated as matters of conscience.
This statement comes in spite of reports that LNP pollies have been warned that voting for the bill could jeopardise their future political careers.
Thanks to the decision to allow a conscience vote, it’s predicted that the legislation is likely to pass, with many LNP members supporting the change of law. Retired LNP senator Sue Boyce has urged her colleagues to vote for the change, citing core Liberal philosophies that “support the autonomy of the individual to the greatest extent possible“.
We have very strong views about state intervention in individuals’ lives in any way that is not necessary, and women having an abortion in Queensland and potentially committing a crime breaks every single one of those tenets of Liberal philosophy
At the moment, if convicted under the criminal legislation, women who receive abortions in Queensland can face up to seven years imprisonment.
The laws will be put to parliament next week.