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Queensland abortion law reform

15 February 2017

Media Statement

February 2017


The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) strongly supports legislation to decriminalise and regulate abortion in Queensland, and particularly the removal of sections 224, 225 and 226 from the Criminal Code. Evidence shows that criminalising abortion does not decrease abortion rates, rather it increases unsafe procedures.(1,2)
 
RANZCOG strongly believes that the regulations introduced through the Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016 will address concerns in some sections of the community.

In particular, RANZCOG:

  • Supports that only doctors or those under the direction of a doctor perform an abortion.

  • Believes that by seeking or assisting with an abortion, a woman is not committing an offence.

  • Supports agreement by two medical practitioners where the woman is more than 24 weeks pregnant, and strongly recommends that a “panel” not be introduced as obligatory as this has been shown to lead to delays and result in later termination of pregnancy.

  • Strongly believes that there should not be a specified  gestational range for the following reasons

    •  Gestational limits discriminate against the most vulnerable of women and women in the most difficult of clinical circumstances. Often disadvantaged women may not access diagnosis of lethal or serious anomalies until later gestations.

    • Gestational limits discriminate against women who may have severe congenital infections such as cytomegalovirus which may not be apparent until later gestations or may only be diagnosed beyond 20 weeks.

    • In scenarios where there are non-identical twins, if termination is only permitted before 20 weeks, this can seriously endanger the healthy twin.

  • Strongly believes that patient protection or “safe zones” should be declared around abortion facilities where certain behaviour e.g. harassment and intimidation is prohibited within a protected zone.


 Adoption of this Bill will show respect for the important principle of providing women with choice when they find themselves in a situation where termination of pregnancy is an option they would consider. Removing the legal barriers will enable earlier access which is particularly important in cases where the pregnancy is a risk to the woman’s health.

References
1. World Health Organization. Unsafe abortion: global and regional estimates of incidence of unsafe abortion and associated mortality in 2000. Available at: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2004/9241591803.pdf Geneva: 2004.
2. Sedgh G, Bearak J, Singh S, et al. Abortion incidence between 1990 and 2014: global, regional, and subregional levels and trends. The Lancet. Published Online: 11 May 2016.

 




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