By Rachael Wong
Today marks one year since the controversial Abortion Law Reform Bill passed the NSW Parliament – a tragic step backwards for women and children in NSW.
The new law failed to address the real issues experienced by women facing unplanned pregnancies, which often make them feel as if abortion is their only choice. These include domestic violence, study, career or family pressures, and a lack of financial or emotional support. It also failed to acknowledge the physical, psychological and emotional risks abortion poses to women’s health.
Most notably, MPs voted down key amendments when passing the bill, which would have afforded greater protections for women and girls, including:
- Safeguards for little girls against sex-selective abortions
- Requirements that women seeking an abortion give fully informed consent
- Provisions for counselling prior to an abortion
- Penalties for abortionists who do not act in accordance with the law
- Mandatory reporting about requests for abortions by girls under 16 years
Disgracefully, Members also voted against providing life-saving treatment to babies born alive after an abortion.
Despite the extreme law effectively making abortion legal at any stage, for any reason in NSW, abortion advocates continue to push for greater access to abortion, particularly medical abortions for regional women through telehealth. However, as we have written previously, these only put such women at greater risk of harm.
In contrast, we continue to advocate for real choice and support for women facing unplanned pregnancies; for positive, life-affirming solutions that address the real issues they are facing and that don’t expose them and their children to further harm.
Instead of just making abortions more available, we want to see the federal and state governments give women real support including financial help, study and employment assistance and any necessary protections from coercion, especially in domestic violence situations (you can sign our petition on this matter here).
We will also continue to advocate for the important protections that the NSW government denied women and girls when passing the bill; particularly safeguards around informed consent, protections for underage girls, and prohibitions against sex selective abortions.
If anyone is struggling with an unplanned pregnancy or suffering after an abortion, please reach out to Diamond Women. They offer free, compassionate and non-judgemental care and support.
Rachael Wong is the CEO of Women’s Forum Australia