Pro Choice Queensland launched

August 8, 2009

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.

Bligh sidestepped the key issue of why abortion is still in the state's Crimes Act, restating her personal view that abortion should be a decision between the woman, her partner and her doctor.

Federal shadow attorney-general George Brandis, also on the program panel, pointed out that much of the discussion about abortion in Australia proceeds on the assumption that it has been legalised, when in fact it hasn't.

A new coalition of Queensland organisations was launched on August 7 to campaign for abortion decriminalisation.

Pro Choice Queensland is comprised of groups and individuals from across the health, political, community and women's sectors.

"The formation of Pro Choice Queensland and the diversity of its membership really demonstrate the widespread support in the community for abortion law reform", Children by Choice spokesperson Kate Marsh said at the launch.

"There has never been a better time for the government to act on abortion law reform", she said. "A woman is facing jail time over an abortion in Cairns", she said. "Some doctors have withdrawn services due to their uncertainty over the legal situation. Access to abortion for Queensland women is poor, and getting worse.

"This is why Pro Choice Queensland exists. We believe, as do the large majority of the community, that all women should have access to safe and legal abortion. We are committed to achieving that."

Caroline de Costa is an advocate for abortion law reform and better abortion access. She was the first Australian doctor granted the right to prescribe abortion drug RU486 — a service she has now withdrawn due to increasing legal uncertainty over medical abortion in Queensland.

"This is not about the ethics or morality of abortion", da Costa said. "It is about the impediments to safe and accessible abortion services for Queensland women — services that are available much more freely and legally elsewhere in Australia."

Cairns Women's Network spokesperson Dr Carole Ford said: "The decisions a woman may make about terminating a pregnancy, for whatever reason, should be resolved in the surgery, not the court room."

The Brisbane-based Pro Choice Action Collective has also called a protest action in the week before the committal hearing in Cairns. The action, with the demands "Drop the charges" and "Repeal the anti-abortion laws", will be held at 12 noon on August 24 at the corner of Boundary and Russell streets, West End, for a march to Anna Bligh's office on Vulture Street.

[To find out more about Pro Choice Queensland, visit]

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