Viable, late-term unborn babies still can be legally aborted in some parts of Australia after a bill to ban late-term abortions failed this week.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Labour Party MP Rachel Carling-Jenkins would have banned abortions after 24 weeks in the Australian state of Victoria, the Herald Sun reports. Unborn babies are viable outside the womb at 24 weeks, though new research indicates that babies can survive even earlier.
Here is more from the report:
The laws also included provisions to force hospitals to provide more support to women in “distress”, and to care for babies born in emergencies after 24 weeks.
Currently, a woman can have an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy as long as two doctors have agreed it is appropriate.
A passionate debate in the Legislative Council saw several MPs argue against taking choice away from women, while several in favour of the changes said late-term abortions were cruel.
Opposition spokeswoman for women Georgie Crozier said as a former midwife she found it difficult to support some of the changes in the proposed Bill.
But her colleague Bernie Finn, who is staunchly anti-abortion, argued the practice was an “evil” way to kills babies and “a stain on the state”.
The bill failed in a 27-11 vote on Wednesday, The Age reports. After the vote, Carling-Jenkins appeared visibly upset and said she refused to give up, according to the report.
“This debate is not settled,” she told parliament. “It is not settled while the DLP holds a seat in this chamber.”
Facing criticism that her bill was based on religious beliefs, she said: “I have as much right to be here and to express my opinion and the opinion of my base, that is the people who vote for me, as anyone else here does. To continue using my religion in a derogatory light does not work for me.”
Australian state laws vary on abortion. New South Wales and Queensland have similar laws, 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 some restrictions for late-term abortions.
However, abortion activists are trying to expand abortion in Queensland. A bill is currently being considered that would legalize abortion without any limits through all nine months of pregnancy in the state, LifeNews reported. Queensland MP Rob 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.
Polls consistently show that most people oppose late-term abortions. A 2015 Marist University poll found that 84 percent of Americans want significant restrictions on abortionand would limit abortions to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy. This includes almost 7 in 10 (69 percent) who identify themselves as “pro-choice” who support such abortion limits and oppose late-term abortions.