Call for national funding and abortion decriminalisation in all Australian States and Territories.

February 21, 2018 Abortion law reform

Human rights lawyers react to Labor’s Tasmanian abortion pledge with a call for national action and decriminalisation in all Australian States and Territories.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has reacted to today’s policy announcement by Tanya Plibersek that a Federal Labor government would fund access to surgical abortions for Tasmanians by calling on all levels of government in Australia to play their part in ensuring safe, legal and affordable access to abortion services.

Professor Rita Shackel, Co-Chair of ALHR’s Women & Girls’ Rights Subcommittee observed: “ALHR would welcome any commitment of federal funding for a Reproductive Health Hub in Tasmania, however, we also need a similar commitment in other states and territories where access to abortion remains a significant problem.”

While it is it is estimated that 1 in 3 women in Australia have at least one abortion in their lifetime efforts to decriminalise abortion in Queensland and NSW during 2017 were unsuccessful. Where abortion providers are forced to operate within an ambiguous legal space access to abortion services is limited and often prohibitively expensive for many women.

Anna Kerr, Co-Chair of ALHR’s Women & Girl’s Rights Subcommittee said: “In the interests of equity, surgical abortions should be available through the public health system in all states of Australia. It is a clear breach of women and girls’ human rights to restrict these services to those residing in certain areas or who are wealthy enough to pay, travel and gain access to such services.” All women in Australia – across the entire country – should have maximum access to a range of choices.

Ms Kerr added: “The Federal Government should act in accordance with its international human rights obligations under Articles 12, 14 and 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and ensure that appropriate and safe abortion services are legal, adequately supported and accessible to all Australian women living in rural and urban areas.”

“Further, ALHR calls on the New South Wales Government and the Queensland Government to decriminalise abortion. Those who seek abortions should not be treated as criminals and the majority of Australians recognise that our laws need to change to reflect this.”

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