WESTERN AUSTRALIA – Abortion now fully decriminalised in Western Australia
Abortion was completely removed from the criminal code in Western Australia this week, and the upper time limit was increased from 20 weeks to 23 weeks. This makes it the last of Australia’s states and territories to fully decriminalise abortion.
It had been an emotional debate, following last month’s intervention from Jackie Jarvis, the state’s Agriculture Minister. Jarvis revealed she underwent an abortion in the early 1990s after being raped, although abortion was still illegal in the state at the time.
The state had in fact been one of the first (after South Australia and Tasmania) to make abortion legal within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy in the late 1990s. Violations of restrictions around abortion, however, could still be met with criminal sanctions and these have now been removed.
There has been a striking shift in official political sentiment around abortion in recent years. This may reflect the fact that abortion is not an especially partisan issue in Australian politics, with a clear majority of both Liberal and Labor votes in support of a right to abortion. One poll found 61% of Australians believe abortion should be legal without question. A further quarter of respondents gave qualified support.
New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia have all removed provisions against abortion since December 2018.
“The laws are about removing barriers to access, particularly for women who live outside the metropolitan centre or outside regional centres,” sponsor of the bill, Sue Ellery, Minister for Women’s Interests (above), told media this week.
It must have been a tremendous moment for her sponsoring the bill, the article said. Ellery was the Women’s Officer for the National Australian Union of University Students back in 1983.
SOURCE: A Rich Life, by Christian Tym, 24 September 2023 + PHOTO of Sue Ellery