Twenty-five abortion rights protesters picketed in central Brisbane on June 28 to demand decriminalisation of abortion. In peak-hour traffic, they walked into a pedestrian intersection, chanting and waving placards and urging motorists to honk their horns in support of abortion rights.
Queensland is one of only two states in Australia not to have removed abortion from the criminal code in at least some circumstances. The week before the picket, the state government referred the issue to the Queensland Law Reform Commission for an opinion and draft legislation to remove medically supervised abortion from the criminal code and to clarify and modernise abortion law in the state.
The picket was one of a series held by the Women’s Abortion Rights Campaign to raise awareness that abortion remains on the criminal code and to build community support for the demand to decriminalise it. For months the group, along with other activist and campaign groups, had been urging the state government to refer the issue to the QLRC in a timeframe that would potentially allow the issue to be dealt with in parliament in 2017.
The QLRC is due to report in mid-2018, after the next state election. It has been tasked with considering the views of the community as it formulates its recommendations. Opinion polls consistently show Qld community support for abortion to be a matter for a pregnant woman and her doctor. The picket was pitched as an “opportunity to show [the QLRC] what Queenslanders think about abortion rights.”