According to the Australian Associated Press, South Australia’s upper house has formally decriminalized abortion, making it legal up until birth. The state had already allowed abortion but with restrictions.
The Termination of Pregnancy Bill passed the upper house on Tuesday after previously passing in the lower house in February by a vote of 29 to 15. It was then sent back to the upper house for final approval and was passed.
Abortion in South Australia will now be treated as an issue of health care, not a criminal one. Abortion will be legal without restrictions up to 22 weeks and six days gestation, though babies born as young as 21 weeks are able to survive outside the womb with medical support. One medical practitioner will be allowed to decide to commit an abortion before 22 weeks and six days.
After 22 weeks and six days, a medical practitioner will be able to commit an abortion only if they consult with another practitioner and both agree that the abortion is ‘medically necessary’. Reasons may include risk to the mother’s life or physical or mental health, in cases of fetal diagnosis, or to “save another foetus.” Abortion — which is the intentional killing of a preborn human being — is never medically necessary.
The new law does include an amendment that disallows abortion based on the sex of the baby as well as an amendment that requires every mother seeking an abortion to be provided with information about counseling. The law also includes conscience protections for any registered health practitioner who conscientiously objects to committing or assisting in an abortion.
The abortion laws vary from state to state in Australia, with the majority now allowing abortion for any reason up to 22 or 24 weeks, though the Northern Territory adds restrictions at 14 weeks and Tasmania adds restrictions at 16 weeks.
According to the Human Rights Law Centre, Western Australia is now the only state that still uses criminal law to regulate abortion. That state is already under pressure to fully decriminalize abortion, as pro-abortion Human Rights Law Centre spokeswoman Monique Hurley told the Australian Associated Press, “It is time for the Parliament of Western Australia to follow in the footsteps of South Australia and bring their laws into line with every other jurisdiction in the country by removing all barriers to timely reproductive healthcare.” (emphasis added)
Right to Life Australia said of the new law on its website, “A bill which allows for babies to be aborted because of social ‘circumstances’ is unacceptable — we are supposedly a civilised society. A government should be providing all the support it can to mothers in difficult circumstances, not disposing of South Australian children of the future.”
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