Queensland law should reflect public support for abortion – The Brisbane Times 07 April 2016
(Photo courtesy The Brisbane Times 07 April 2016)
Nearly one in three women has an abortion at some time in their life. It’s hard to believe but terminating a pregnancy remains a criminal offence in Queensland. Consider some other way this glaring contradiction could be reconciled other than a smack down for 21st century women.
Let’s face it: if men bore children ending unwanted pregnancies would’ve been legal long ago, even if the sunny land of Sir Joh, don’t you worry about that.
Thankfully someone is doing something about it. The ex-ALP Independent Member for Cairns, Rob Pyne, has pledged to draft a private member’s Bill to legalise abortion.
Women’s rights have come a long way in a century.
In 1902, Australia was the first country to allow women to run for parliament.
In 1965, Queenslanders Merle Thornton and Rosalie Bognor chained themselves to the bar of Brisbane’s Regatta Hotel, and ended the ban on women entering public bars.
A hundred years ago women couldn’t vote, stand for parliament, drink in bars, enter the workforce, use “the pill”, or end unwanted pregnancies.
After a century of progress, the glaring anomaly is that Queensland women still cannot exercise control over their own body – a hangover from an era when women had virtually no rights.
Abortion is legal in Victoria, ACT and Tasmania.
Mr Pyne was originally motivated by the prosecution of a young Cairns local couple in 2010, for allegedly obtaining an abortion using the drug RU486.
“When that couple were on trial in Cairns, the injustice of it really touched a chord with me,” Mr Pyne said.
“Having an elderly male judge and prosecutors talking about the most intimate details involving a woman’s own body, that’s just wrong.”
Queensland doctors continue to risk criminal charges by providing about 700 procedures a year in the far north, relying on 30-year-old court ruling that ending the pregnancy is allowable when it poses a serious danger to a woman’s physical and mental health.
In an October 2015 Medical Journal of Australia editorial, Professor Caroline de Costa and Professor Heather Douglas argued that Queensland law must be updated to provide uniform access to legal and safe terminations for women in Australia.