‘Century old anti-abortion laws must be repealed’

Issue 
Pip Hinman. Photo by John Immig.

Pip Hinman has been pre-selected to run for the Socialist Alliance in the NSW seat of Marrickville in the March state elections. She is an activist journalist and stood in the seat in 2007.

Hinman was active in the pro-choice movement in Sydney and Brisbane in the 1980s and 1990s. Below, she responds to the October 14 not guilty verdict in the trial of the Cairns couple charged under Queensland’s abortion laws.
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The not guilty finding of the young Cairns couple should be the impetus for the NSW government to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act of 1900.
It took the jury less than an hour to determine that the couple, charged under the Queensland Crimes Act, was not guilty. As obstetrician Caroline De Costa said, the verdict is a clear demonstration that most people do not think these century-old laws are appropriate.

This case shows it’s time for the states with such draconian laws — NSW and Queensland — to follow the lead of other states and remove abortion from the crimes acts.

Abortion is a matter for the woman concerned, and whoever she wishes to confide in. Abortion is not a crime; it is a health issue.

Having 19th century criminal law governing a women's health issue in the 21st century is wrong. It was instructive to hear the comments from a former Queensland Labor MP, Bonny Barry, who joined the vigil outside the court house.

Barry apologised for not having introduced a bill to remove abortion from the Crimes Act when she could.

Abortion rights are not part of the NSW ALP’s policy (as they are in Queensland) but the ALP should still move to repeal these clauses from the Crime Act — immediately.

The reason women in NSW can access an abortion today is due to liberal interpretations of the NSW Crimes Act. But this is not good enough. A young couple in Queensland faced jail for procuring a drug to induce an abortion. This could also happen in NSW. It’s an outrage.

I support the Greens MP’s calls for abortion to be removed from the NSW Crimes Act.

Socialist Alliance will campaign to make this election a referendum on abortion rights. Women and men should use this election send a message that people should not be charged with a criminal offence because they decided they were not ready, or able, to have a child.

It’s incredible that we still have to campaign for this most basic right — the right for women to have control over their own bodies and their reproductive choices, not governments, religious organisations or doctors.

The Socialist Alliance policy demands abortion be removed from all state crimes acts and health acts and made available safely, free of charge and on demand through the public health system.

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