SOUTH AUSTRALIA – Bill to decriminalise abortion in final stages of debate
The Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 had its first reading on 14 October 2020 in South Australia’s Upper House, where it was passed. Debate began in the Lower House on 16 February 2021. The bill would see abortion taken out of the criminal code and into healthcare legislation instead, bringing South Australia in line with all other Australian states.
The clause that allows for abortions after 23 weeks has sparked controversy, however. The clause says an abortion after 23 weeks “would be lawful if two doctors deemed the procedure to be ‘medically appropriate’”. An anti-abortion MP tried to argue that this makes it easier to obtain an abortion up until birth (sic). Attorney-General Vickie Chapman, who supports the bill, described this claim as “a nonsense”. She said:
“There is no such thing as abortion to birth because it is never medically appropriate to terminate a healthy baby at term, for no reason whatsoever.”
She also said: “The fundamental premise of the bill is that Members of Parliament are being asked to trust women and to trust their medical team when it comes to the issue of late-term abortion. This is not a controversial position when we trust doctors with every other decision we make in our life.”
Postscript: Protesting by anti-abortion activists outside South Australian abortion clinics was outlawed on 11 November 2020. It is now an offence to protest within 150 metres of an abortion clinic.
SOURCES: ABC.net.au, 16 February 2021 ; Campaign newsletter, 11 November 2020 ; ABC.net.au, 11 November 2020 ; PHOTO from the Advertiser