A doctor at the East Coast Women’s Centre in Nambour supports the MP’s bill.
A doctor at the East Coast Women’s Centre in Nambour supports the MP’s bill. Warren Lynam

MP’s bid to legalise abortion brings mixed reaction

A DOCTOR who helps Sunshine Coast women seeking abortions has welcomed independent MP Rob Pyne's tabling of a private member's bill to legalise the medical procedure in Queensland.

The Abortion Law Reform (Woman's Right to Choose) Amendment Bill 2016 has caused a stir as it seeks to decriminalise abortion, removing it from the Queensland Criminal Code, where it has been since 1899.

A court precedent was set in 1986 that allowed abortions when there was a risk to the mother's life or health.

The East Coast Women's Centre doctor, who did not wish to be named, said illegality had not completely removed access to abortion, but it made it harder for women when they were already at their most vulnerable.

"I think (the bill) is a good thing and it should have happened a long time ago," the doctor said.

Having worked in all states and being based on the Coast for the past 14 years, the doctor said Queensland was "very backwards" on matters of pregnancy termination.

The centre assists in abortions of foetuses up to 16 weeks, but the doctor said terminations were only a small percentage of the work carried out at the holistic health centre.

Mr Pyne told a pro-choice rally of about 200 people outside Parliament House yesterday morning the legislation would not be the final version of what would be voted on and matters like the time limits in which abortion could be undertaken would be discussed with MPs.

"I have not made any suggestion in relation to gestation periods because my main concern is that this Parliament gets together and passes law reform in this area, so we need something that a majority of MPs can support," he said.

In a statement released yesterday, Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said there should be no change to the laws in place.

"Should the bill currently before the Queensland Parliament be brought to a vote, there would be a conscience vote for LNP Members," Mr Nicholls said.

Abortion laws across Australia vary. It is legal in the Australian Capital Territory while Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and Northern Territory have limitations on how late a pregnancy can be terminated.


THE East Coast Women's Centre doctor did not wish to be named for fear of reprisal.

The doctor said she had chosen to help women with abortions because it was all about having a choice.

"I help women and I feel good about myself, but I don't go out and publicise that fact," she said.

"Women's choice to have abortions has been there for a long time and I don't know why it has to be anybody else's business.

"Because it's in the criminal code, women have the added burden of fear that they are doing something they shouldn't be doing and I feel very sad for them and wish it wasn't like this.

"There are no better torturers than women themselves - they don't need other people to torture them for their decisions."

Children By Choice communications co-ordinator Kate Marsh said the abortion laws were archaic and didn't reflect modern life.

"Polls show 80% of people support women's right to choose and we need to remove the fear of prosecution for doctors and women at risk," she said.

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