Health Minister Steven Miles and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad at the March Together for Choice rally in Brisbane. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Health Minister Steven Miles and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad at the March Together for Choice rally in Brisbane. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

Abortion legalised in Queensland

A CENTURY-OLD law that criminalised pregnancy termination in Queensland has been overturned, making abortion legal across the state. 

The Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 has been hotly debated in Queensland Parliament for the past two days and MPs broke into cheers when the bill passed into law 50-41. 

It passed just before 8pm after the parliament extended sitting hours to allow the final vote to be taken tonight. 

The new laws allow women to access termination on demand up to 22 weeks. The limit was a major part of the debate and a proposed amendment to decrease the limit to 16 weeks was voted down. 

Under the old laws, abortion was considered legal to prevent serious damage to someone's mental or physical health. 

But the procedure remained a criminal offence that could have attracted a jail term of up to seven years. Its place in the criminal code dated back to 1899.

The new laws have removed abortion from the criminal code, meaning women can no longer be charged for procuring an abortion. 

MPs from across the state told their own emotional stories on the floor of Queensland Parliament during the debate to overturn the 1899 law. 

In his speech on day one, Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen said every child deserved to live, including himself as the result of an unwanted pregnancy.  

"If this law were present in those days, I would not be alive to speak on behalf of all of the babies who have the right to live - and I believe that I had the right to live. I still believe that," he said.

Labor's Nikki Boyd told parliament she had been sent vile vitriol from those opposed to abortion reform. 

"We must entrust women to make one of the most important health decisions that they will ever make," the pregnant MP said. 

Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, who has vocally supported the reforms, told parliament the rights of women to control their own reproduction and their own bodies was an important part of equality. 

"To prioritise the rights of a fetus above that of a woman is something that I find offensive," she said. 

"Because the logical conclusion to that argument is that a woman should be forced to continue an unwanted pregnancy.

"In this day and age, I think that is something that doesn't belong in our society."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on day two she believed women should be able to speak to her doctor about her own health and body without it being a crime. 

"I support it as a respectful member of this house, as a lifelong advocate for women, as a representative of my electorate and, no means least, as a woman," she said. 

Caloundra MP Mark McArdle strongly criticised the Bill and moved amendments to reduce the 22-week limit and remove the reference to social circumstances in consideration for doctors on whether or not to grant abortion after 22 weeks. 

All proposed amendments failed. 

News Corp Australia

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