Abortion decriminalised in NSW

September 26, 2019 Abortion law reform

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has welcomed the passage today of historic laws to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales. ALHR President Kerry Weste said “We are extremely pleased that, after many, many years of advocacy the law in New South Wales will finally be updated to remove archaic provisions criminalising abortion.” 

“New South Wales will now have laws that are consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations, community standards and current practice. This is a significant human rights win for all women and girls in New South Wales and brings the law into line with most states and territories.”

“ALHR congratulates all members of the New South Wales Parliament who supported the Bill, particularly its co-sponsors who have worked tirelessly to ensure women’s right to enjoy bodily autonomy without fear of criminal prosecution. We likewise commend the work of our fellow members of the NSW Pro Choice Alliance, led by the Women’s Electoral Lobby.”

ALHR, as well as numerous other domestic and international human rights organisations, have long called for the repeal of laws prohibiting abortion as an important step in eliminating discrimination against women and addressing preventable deaths caused by unsafe terminations. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child have all declared that States are obliged to provide access to safe and legal abortion services.”

Currently 81% of Australians and 77% of New South Wales residents agree a woman should have the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Between one quarter and half of Australian women will access an abortion service in their lifetime.

Ms Weste said, “Patients and medical professionals in New South Wales deserve laws that are evidence-based, fit for purpose and reflect modern reproductive healthcare. While we are disappointed that some unnecessary amendments to the Bill got up, ALHR is relieved that many of the amendments designed to thwart women’s reproductive freedom did not succeed.”

“Today we celebrate a very significant moment of progress in the protection of the fundamental human rights of women and girls in New South Wales. Those who choose to terminate a pregnancy should never be treated as criminals.”

Contact: Matt Mitchell, ALHR media manager 0431 980 365.