South Australia Is Moving to Reform Abortion Laws and Remove It From Criminal Statutes

A bill to modernise South Australia’s abortion laws has gone before parliament. The bill seeks to treat abortion solely as a health issue, rather than a criminal one, which according to SBS, would involve the creation of a new and highly regulated medical model within the state that would govern the termination of pregnancies.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said that should the bill be successful, abortion laws in South Australia would be similar to the rest of the country and it was time for the state to deal with this issue in a “modern and contemporary way”.

“Our proposal removes abortion entirely from the criminal law, a move that would bring us in line with all other Australian states and territories,” Chapman said. “This is based on the understanding that it is a medical procedure which should be treated like any other health issue.”

The proposed laws would allow an abortion to be carried out by one medical practitioner up to 22 weeks and six days gestation. After this period of time, a medical practitioner will only be able to perform an abortion if they consult with another practitioner and they both agree the procedure to be medically appropriate.

Minister for Human Services in South Australia, Michelle Lensink, agreed that it was time to modernise the laws in the state.

“In this day and age, it’s completely outdated that abortion is still under criminal law,” Lensink said. “For too long this legislation has been governed by the criminal code. These days, there is overwhelming public support to decriminalise abortion and it makes sense given women have done nothing wrong.”

The Australian Medical Association also strongly supports the legislative change and has said that the new laws would not result in an increase in the number of abortions.

“This is a women’s health issue and for too long I’ve seen women who are really damaged, hurt and going through traumatic decisions,” AMA state president Chris Moy said. “To have the burden of criminalisation is inappropriate and must end.”

The bill will now be subjected to a conscience vote of MPS in the upper house as well as the House of Assembly.

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