Angela Walker

CAIRNS — Three Queensland doctors published a letter in the international medical journal The Lancet on March 6, highlighting the difficulties women in the state face accessing medical and surgical abortions.
In early September, most abortions performed in Queensland health facilities came to a halt. The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists had passed on a legal opinion to their members that said doctors were still at risk of prosecution while abortion remained in the criminal code.
Last week, Queensland’s Bligh Labor government demonstrated it could remove the conscience vote on laws regarding abortion. It also instructed ALP parliamentarians to vote in favour of a law to allow medical terminations on the same limited grounds as now apply to surgical terminations.
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.
Access to safe medical and surgical abortion is a right that women have fought for and are still to fully achieve. They’ve kept fighting because the right to decide if and when to bear children is a cornerstone for women’s equality in society.
Premier Anna Bligh was put on the spot on ABC television’s Q & A on July 30 when asked about a young Cairns couple facing charges for procuring an abortion.
Last week was one of much activity in the regional city of Cairns, as the push for abortion law reform in the state shows no sign of slowing down.
On March 21, Anna Bligh’s election victory night, she answered a question from a journalist about how it felt to be the first female premier to be elected in Australia. She suggested the snide remarks made when she was a young woman, about Queensland being a “backward” state, could now be laid to rest.
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The inaugural Tropical Pride Festival was held at Cairns’ Tanks Art Centre on September 16. The night before the festival, for the first time a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) contingent — consisting of 50 people — marched in the festival’s Cairns Parade of Lights, watched by some 10,000 people.