A victory for women’s rights as Queensland decriminalises abortion

October 18, 2018
A rally for abortion rights in Brisbane on October 14. Photo: Alex Bainbridge

Green Left Weekly welcomes the historic vote to decriminalise abortion in Queensland and pledges to redouble its efforts to win free, safe and legal abortion across the country.

It should not have taken this long to win this basic right. It is shameful that it has taken until well into the 21st century to decriminalised abortion in Queensland and Victoria (in 2008), and that New South Wales still includes abortion in its Criminal Code.

Since GLW first went to print in 1991, we have thrown our support behind the campaign for women’s reproductive rights. GLW is one of the very few media outlets that has reported on all the twists and turns of the campaign.

We have covered the campaigns for decriminalisation in all states, including the campaign to get the abortion drug RU486 legalised and licensed for doctors to prescribe for medical abortions.

We covered the 2005-06 case of a Sydney doctor who was found guilty of carrying out an illegal abortion and the 2009-10 case of a young Cairns couple who were charged for having an abortion, only to be found not guilty after a mass campaign of support.

GLW has repeatedly pointed out the weaknesses in abortion law reforms, noting, for example, that women who need access to late-term abortions still struggle to access services.

Furthermore, there is still the need to provide better access to abortion.

In most states, the main way women can access abortion services is through expensive private medical clinics in capital cities. This denies many women the ability to have one.

It is expensive to travel to a capital city and pay for accommodation, transport and the medical procedure itself, especially if you do not have family support.

Many Tasmanian women have to fly to Melbourne to access abortions after the closure of the state’s only abortion clinic in 2017, as the Royal Hobart Hospital only performs three surgical abortions a week.

Given not all women can afford to fly to Melbourne, many are forced to go through with unwanted pregnancies.

Women need to be able to access abortions in a timely fashion through the public health system.

If you support GLW continuing to campaign for women’s reproductive rights, please help us by becoming a supporter today.

You can sign up at greenleft.org.au/support or phone us on 1800 634 206 (free call from anywhere in Australia).

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