An Australian abortion bill could become the Roe v. Wade of the island continent, opening the doors to abortion for any reason up to birth.
The bill, proposed by Queensland state MP Rob Pyne, would legalize abortion without any limits through all nine months of pregnancy, ABC News Australia reports. It would be a major setback for unborn babies in the Australian state, which currently prohibits abortions except in rare cases when the mother’s life or health is in danger.
The Liberal National Party and Labor Party are scheduled to consider the bill this week, according to The Daily Mail. Labor members appear to be supportive of the pro-abortion measure, while Liberal leaders said their party’s policy is “that there should be no change to the current laws in place,” according to The Guardian.
Pyne said abortion should not be a crime, and his fellow abortion supporters called the current laws “draconian.”
“The world is changing very quickly and unfortunately our politicians aren’t,” Pyne said. “I have not made any suggestion in relation to gestation periods — whether it be 24 weeks, 20 weeks or whatever — because my main concern is that this Parliament get together and pass law reform in this area, so we need something that a majority of MPs can support.”
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Pyne introduced the bill in response to a heavily publicized story of a 12-year-old pregnant girl who had to seek a Queensland court’s permission to have an abortion earlier this spring. Pyne previously said it was “cruel and unusual” that the 12 year old had to receive permission from a court to have an abortion.
Without gestational limits, his bill would legalize abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason. It is similar to what the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade did in America in 1973, when it overturned many state pro-life laws and allowed abortion for basically any reason up until birth.
Here is more from The Guardian:
Because the bill has no gestation period limits it allows for late-term abortions, including up to nine months, a likely sticking point that Pyne has said is up for negotiation.
“I have anticipated that during committee process there will be submissions from many groups in our society, as well as alternative position put by members of parliament,” he told ABC Radio.
But he said he only supported late-term abortions where the mother’s health was under threat.
“I see late-term abortions as only occurring in tragic circumstance where the serious health and survival of mother is at question,” he said.
It would mean doctors would provide advice and procedure based on health interests of the mother as a sole determinant, he said.
Roe v. Wade also has a health exception that supposedly restricts late-term abortions on viable babies; however, the term “health” was defined so broadly in Roe and its companion case Doe v. Bolton that it allows late-term abortions for basically any reason.
Australian state laws vary on abortion. New South Wales has similar laws to Queensland, allowing abortions only when there is a serious danger to a woman’s health, according to ABC. Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory allow abortions up to nine months, with additional restrictions for late-term abortions.
According to the Daily Mail: “Abortion has been prohibited in Queensland by the state’s criminal code since 1899 but a ruling in 1986 determined that procedures were possible if a medical professional determined there is a risk to the mother’s physical or mental health, according to ABC. The law was amended in 2009 allowing surgical or chemical abortions.”
Both pro-life and pro-abortion protesters held rallies outside the Queensland Parliament on Tuesday.