Photo courtesy: Huffington Post
The topic of abortion has been one of much debate over the decades since the first abortion clinics opened up in the suburb of Surry Hills in New South Wales. Feminists have constantly fought to decriminalize the right to having an abortion which is currently illegal according to Sections 82, 83 and 84 of theCrimes Act 1900 (NSW). Recently, the topic has yet again surfaced as conservative MP Fred Nile introduced a series of Bills into parliament in May which seeks to make it difficult to get abortions. Women in NSW can access abortion under the 1971 Levine district court ruling, which found abortion was legal if there were economic, social or medical grounds to avoid a serious threat to the woman’s physical or mental health. However supporters of Mr Nile’s proposals hope to see the current legislation criminalizing the termination of a foetus with a detectable heartbeat, and certain set of steps be carried before the women proceeds to the get an abortion; viewing an ultrasound image of the foetus and undergoing counselling for her intended actions.
Pro-female advocates state that if these laws are to be successfully passed, this will only mount more stress on women facing the emotional, mental and physical pressure that comes attached with forming a decision to obtain an abortion. However, these advocates have a reason to rejoice for the time being as Victoria recently announced the introduction of ‘buffer zones’ to prevent pro-life activists from protesting directly outside abortion clinics within the state. The Bill was initially introduced by the Sex Party who developed it in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Regulation aims to exclude pro-life activists from being within a metres radius of the abortion clinics, with penalties for violations of the ‘buffer zone’. The Bill was introduced into Victorian parliament after continual reports from women and medical staff at clinics that they were constantly being heckled and harassed by pro-life activists. However, the introduction of ‘buffer clinics’ is yet to be nationalized as Tasmania is the only other state to adopt buffer zones around abortion clinics back several years ago.
The Law and Abortion
Abortions are legally permitted in New South Wales if the pregnancy puts the mental or physical health of the mother at risk. Additionally if the woman’s life circumstances face impeding danger then an abortion is justified by legislation. Abortion services are available up to weeks 18 to 20 of pregnancy. A woman of 14 or 15 years of age can give informed consent for an abortion if a doctor deems her mature enough to do so. However a minor must obtain consent from a parent or guardian, or a Supreme Court before they can proceed with an abortion.
The Crimes Act 1900, Section 82 states that:
Whosoever, being a woman with child,
- unlawfully administers to herself any drug or noxious thing, or
- unlawfully uses any instrument or other means,
- with intent in any such case to procure her miscarriage,
shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.
The Fine Balancing Act
In the alternative, pro-life supporters justify their actions by stating that the Bill limits their right to freedom of speech and right to protest. Conversely, doctors at reproductive and fertility clinics argue that these activists have physically obstructed women from entering the premises. In contrast, doctors at the clinic claim to have observed pro-life protesters physically preventing women from getting into the facility. It is a delicate balancing act between government legislature and clinics, as people do possess the right to protest however it should not occur at the cost of impinging on another’s rights in the due process.
If you are concerned about your rights to an abortion under Australian law then give us a call on 8917 8700 or alternatively fill out the inquiry box detailing your issue and we will ensure to get back to you as soon as possible.