Yesterday, abortion was decriminalised in Queensland, where it has been classified as a crime under the Criminal Code Act since 1899.
The fight to decriminalise abortion in Queensland has been going on for 50 years, ending with a 50-41 vote, passing law making abortion legal until 22 weeks.
The law also requires a 150m safe zone around the entrance of clinics to ensure the safety of women entering and exiting the building.
This vote grants women reproductive freedom and control over their own bodies, which is long overdue.
Prior to this change, abortion was only considered lawful if performed to prevent serious damage to the woman’s health, be that physical or mental.
Rape, incest and fetal abnormality were not considered grounds for a lawful abortion.
Unlawfully having an abortion could see you sent to prison for up to seven years and unlawfully performing an abortion could get you up to 14 years.
Queensland isn’t the last state to decriminalise abortion though, it is still criminalised in New South Wales and South Australia.
In New South Wales, abortion has been a crime under the NSW criminal code since 1900, and is punishable by 10 years in prison. However, doctors can administer abortions if they believe the pregnancy is a danger to the woman’s physical or mental health, and social and economic factors may also be taken into consideration. This year, 150m “safe access” zones were introduced around clinics and it is also a crime to film or photograph patients and staff without their consent.
In South Australia, women can obtain an abortion up to 28 weeks provided two doctors agree that the pregnancy may be a danger to the woman’s physical or mental health, or if there is a risk that the child will likely be born with a serious abnormality. Women can be charged for obtaining an unlawful abortion.
While the other five states have different laws regarding obtaining an abortion, it is decriminalised everywhere else in Australia.
Australian Capital Territory: Abortion is legal with no gestational limits. Legislation passed in September (when enacted, which is likely to be January 2019) will allow women to receive medication for a medical abortion by mail to terminate pregnancy, if less than nine weeks. 50m protest-free zones outside of abortion clinics.
Northern Territory*: Legal up to 23 weeks. For up to 14 weeks, assessment by one doctor is required, after 14 weeks up to 23 weeks approval by two doctors is required for the procedure to occur. After 23 weeks, the woman’s life must be in danger in order for the pregnancy to be terminated.
Tasmania*: Legal in first 16 weeks, and with the approval of two doctors after that. The state’s only dedicated abortion clinic closed in January of this year.
Victoria*: Legal in first 24 weeks of pregnancy, and with the approval of two doctors after that.
Western Australia: Legal up to 20 weeks. Women must be given the opportunity to visit a counsellor and women under 16 years must inform one parent before an abortion can be performed. After 20 weeks, two doctors from a panel of six (appointed by the Health Minister) must agree that the woman or fetus has a “severe medical condition” in order to terminate the pregnancy.
*150m “buffer zone” around abortion clinics. It is illegal to protest, film or harass patients within this area.
To read these restrictions and more click here.
Women deserve autonomy, to not have their bodies and their choices policed, especially around such a personal issue.
To everyone who has fought for how far these laws have come, thank you, we will keep fighting until our right to choose is no longer a crime anywhere.
Legal abortions are safe abortions, decriminalisation keeps women safe.
Congratulations to the women of Queensland, you made this happen.