October 12 is the trial date set for a young Cairns couple charged with procuring an abortion.
According to Dr Caroline de Costa in a book released this month, Never Ever Again …Why Australian Abortion Law Needs Reform, no woman has previously been charged with procuring her own abortion since the 1899 criminal code was first decreed in Queensland.
De Costa believes this could be the first trial of its kind in Australia’s history.
Pro-choice activists nationally have called for the charges to be dropped since the couple’s case first appeared before the courts in early 2009. Activists have also highlighted the urgent need for repeal of all the anti-abortion sections of the Queensland criminal code.
This month, a survey published in the Medical Journal of Australia found broad support for decriminalising abortion across Australia. Researcher Professor Julian Savulescu said on July 4: “Criminal abortion laws should be repealed and abortion available on demand. It is time to take a more ethical approach to abortion. It is a valid part of family planning.”
Pro Choice Action Collective (Qld), along with Women’s Abortion Action Campaign (NSW) and Radical Women (Victoria), has called a national day of action on October 9.
The Cairns Women’s Network, which organised a 72-hour vigil outside the courthouse last September, is also gathering local support on the issue. About 90 people attended a Cairns pro-choice event on July 9 and further activities are being planned.