A proposal to decriminalise abortion has been voted down in the NSW parliament, The Guardian reports.
Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi’s abortion law reform bill was defeated 25 to 14 in the upper house yesterday. Votes in support the bill came from five Greens, eight Labor members, and an Animal Justice Party member. Not a single vote in support came from the government, while three Labor members voted against it.
The defeat means that abortion will remain an offence in the NSW Crimes Act, and unlawfully procuring abortion will continue to be punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment under the act. Unlawfully supplying a drug or instrument for an abortion will also continue to be punishable by up to five years' jail.
Abortions in NSW are currently made legal by an interpretation of the Crimes Act by the NSW district court in 1971.
That interpretation, known as the Levine ruling, allows doctors to approve an abortion if a woman’s physical or mental health is in danger, and taking into account social, economic or other medical factors.
Ms Faruqi said she was disappointed to see no member of the government voted for the bill. She said the decision was “completely out of step with modern medical practice, community expectation, and laws in almost all other states”.
The Catholic Church mobilised in opposition to Ms Faruqi’s bill, led by Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP.
“Archbishop Fisher has asked all Catholics in Sydney and others of goodwill to defend life by giving a voice to unborn and signing a petition to the NSW members of parliament,” a statement on the archdiocese’s website said last month.
The Greens’ bill had the support of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Marie Stopes, Family Planning NSW and many other groups.
The ACT has decriminalised abortion completely and Tasmania and Victoria have also successfully pursued abortion law reform.
But similar attempts in Queensland ran into difficulty and were delayed earlier this year, following opposition from the state’s Liberal National party.
Move to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales voted down (The Guardian)
NSW abortion law reform push defeated (The Australian)
Vote to fully decriminalise abortion in NSW is lost (The Daily Telegraph)