Make abortion legal in Queensland in 2017.
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Make abortion legal in 2017.
Abortion is still a crime in Queensland, even though 80% of people support a woman's right to decide. Queensland parliament recently failed to pass legislation to decriminalise and regulate abortion. Instead, the premier, deputy-premier and attorney-general promised to refer the issue to the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) and enact legislation based on the QLRC's report, in the next term of government. So far this referral hasn't been made, and there's every possibility it will report back too late for legislation to be introduced this year.
Join us to call for the referral to be made to the QLRC now, for it to report quickly, and for a public commitment that legislation to decriminalise abortion will be introduced in this term of parliament, this year.
Having abortion on the criminal code gives weight to anti-abortion stigma, takes away the legitimacy of women deciding for themselves whether or when to have children, and puts that decision-making power in the hands of doctors who must make a judgement about the physical and mental health impact of continuing or terminating the pregnancy. It empowers anti-abortion forces – most importantly in hospitals, where access to abortion is severely restricted. It means that most people requiring abortion must pay more and travel further, to access abortion in one of the free-standing private clinics.
This situation is unjust, and out of keeping with the values of the majority of Queenslanders.
It is not good enough to push it off into the never-never. No-one knows what the composition of the next parliament will be or who will be in a position to put any abortion-related bills forward.
However, since this is the path that has been promised, we want the QLRC referral to be made now. We want to ensure that it reports quickly. And we want this parliament, this term, under this government, to legislate to decriminalise abortion.
The parliamentary health committee has already twice conducted extensive hearings into the legislation, receiving submissions from psychological, medical, legal and ethical experts, women, women's rights and health care consumer advocates, abortion providers and numerous others. The 2002 Report of the Taskforce on Women and the Criminal Code advocated decriminalisation of abortion. While the QLRC will need to conduct its own research, it will have these reports, along with reports of the Victorian Law Reform Commission and those prepared for the Tasmanian parliament all available to it. Those who made submissions to the parliamentary health committee would be well placed to make submissions to the QLRC within a short timeframe.
The QLRC has a staff of 4, with only one other report currently underway.
So a timeframe of 6 months for the report, which would potentially allow the matter to be dealt with in the term of the current parliament, would be quite reasonable.
We therefore request Premier Palaszczuk, Deputy-Premier Trad and Attorney-General D'Ath to ensure the immediate referral of this issue to the QLRC, with a timeframe for reporting of no more than six months, and to make a public commitment to introduce legislation to decriminalise abortion within the current term of government.
Anything else is just transparent delaying tactics. We want reproductive justice and we want it now.
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