Australia: Doctors’ fears of the bill to decriminalise abortion in Queensland unfounded

8 July 2016Independent Queensland MP Rob Pyne has tabled a private member’s bill calling for abortion to be removed from the state’s criminal code. At a pro-choice rally in May this year in Brisbane in support of the bill, Deputy Premier of Queensland, Jackie Trad, told the rally she was “unashamedly pro-choice”.The bill has sparked debate and drawn more than 120 submissions to the committee inquiry into the bill, most of them anti-abortion. Among the submissions from anti-abortion groups are “concerns linking abortion to depression, the Holocaust and the ultimate [act of] domestic violence”.Several medical professionals have also expressed concerns. Doctors at one of Queensland’s leading obstetrics and gynaecology clinics have asked for medical practitioners be given the right to refuse to perform abortions for reasons of conscience, if the bill is passed, according to the Brisbane Times. They appear to assume, mistakenly, that if abortion is decriminalised, they will all be forced to provide abortions whether they want to or not.Some of the submissions express fears – which are also erroneous – that the lack of an upper time limit for abortion in the bill automatically means Queensland would allow abortions up to the time of birth. In introducing the bill, however, Mr Pyne said he wanted any time limit to be considered based on advice from experts, but wanted decriminalisation itself to be the initial focus of discussion.Public hearings to discuss the bill are due to be held across the state in the coming months, with the committee reporting back to the state parliament with its findings and recommendations by 26 August. Both major parties have already said they would allow their MPs a conscience vote on the issue.SOURCE: Brisbane Times, by Amy Remeikis, 8 July 2016 ; PHOTO: ABC News, Giulio Saggin