Campaign to repeal abortion laws

Issue 

BY KERRYN WILLIAMS

CANBERRA — Feminist organisations and individuals in the ACT have gathered under the banner "Options for Women" to campaign for women's right to choose abortion. This challenges the renewed offensive by the anti-choice Right to Life group that followed minor changes to abortion legislation late last year.

Options for Women is calling for the decriminalisation of pregnancy termination and repeal of the Health Regulation (Maternal Health Information) Act 1998 (known as the "Osborne Act"). The most controversial aspect of this act, the compulsory viewing of foetal images by women seeking an abortion, was removed late last year by ACT Labor chief minister John Stanhope. However, other aspects of the act remain, including a 72-hour "cooling-off" period and mandatory provision of a government-drafted information brochure.

Labor speaker of the ACT Legislative Assembly Wayne Berry has introduced a private member's bill to repeal the Osborne Act. Berry's bill will be debated later in the year.

Options for Women is calling for letters of support for decriminalisation of abortion and the repeal of the Osborne Act to be sent to members of the Legislative Assembly.

Green and Democrat MLAs both strongly support repeal. A number of ALP MLAs are influenced by the Right to Life and unlikely to vote in favour of the right of women to choose. The ALP. which holds government in the ACT, has a "conscience" vote on abortion.

Options for Women have also called a pro-choice rally for April 9. Contact <fpact@familyplanningact.org.au> for further details.

From Green Left Weekly, March 6, 2002.

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