Vigil for abortion law reform

Issue 

Doctors at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital will no longer perform medical terminations due to legal uncertainty, after criminal charges were laid against a 19-year-old woman and her partner in Cairns for allegedly procuring an abortion, said the August 21 Australian.

The August 22 Cairns Post said all public hospitals across the state had stopped using the abortion-inducing drug RU486, which is the drug involved in the legal case.

In response, Queensland health minister Paul Lucas said the government would look at clarifying the legal status of medical terminations along the same lines that now provide for surgical terminations. But this falls well short of the demands being put by the growing pro-choice movement in Queensland.

An online petition started by ProChoice Queensland on the state government website on August 17 calls on parliament to repeal Sections 224, 225 and 226 of the criminal code, to ensure that termination of pregnancy is no longer subject to criminal law.

On June 16, the speaker in Queensland's parliament refused to receive a petition from Cairns residents initiated by the Cairns Women's Network (CWN) signed by more than 800 people. He ruled the petition sub judice (currently before the courts) and therefore ineligible for tabling.

"We were disappointed with the sub judice ruling made by the speaker", said CWN spokesperson Carole Ford. "Our petition does call for the charges to be dropped against the Cairns couple, but does not discuss the substance of the case.

"We are supporting fully the new online petition by Pro-Choice Queensland and ask the 840 Cairns locals who signed our original petition to sign again as their voices have not been heard."

CWN is calling on women throughout the state to hold vigils for abortion reform in Queensland on September 2. Ford said:"These laws affect your daughter, your partner, your mother, your colleagues and your neighbours. Any woman who wants to make a decision if and when to have children."