LABOR defector Rob Pyne has set in motion a bill to try to decriminalise abortion in Queensland.
Mr Pyne has tabled his first private member’s bill in State Parliament, which would legalise abortion for women up to nine months pregnant.
“Currently abortion is a crime in Queensland under the criminal code. This would eliminate those elements of the code that make abortion a crime,” Mr Pyne said.
He said he expected the bill would be referred to a parliamentary committee for a few months, “allowing MPs to consider expert testimony and ordinary Queenslanders to have their say”. The bill will then be presented to Parliament for debate.
Opposition Leader Tim Nicholls said the LNP party room would consider the bill, while Labor MPs would be allowed a conscience vote.
“The bill that I propose may not have the support of the majority of MPs, but I would hope that through that committee process, with input from all parties that we can reach a bill that a majority of MPs can support,” Mr Pyne said.
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad confirmed she would support Mr Pyne’s bill.
“I am unashamedly pro-choice,” she said, standing alongside Mr Pyne, in front of a cheering crowd of supporters outside Parliament, before the bill was tabled on Tuesday.
At least nine Labor parliamentary colleagues, mingled in a largely pro-choice crowd.
“What a woman decides to do with her own body in consultation with her doctor does not belong in the criminal code,” Ms Trad said.
“I fully respect that caucus colleagues in the Labor Party will have different views from me, and we will go through this in a respectful and deliberative manner.”
Mr Nicholls later said the LNP wanted the laws to stay how they were, but its MPs wouldn’t be bound by that position.
“Should the bill currently before the Queensland parliament be brought to a vote, there would be a conscience vote for LNP members,” he said.
Protect Life advocate Graham Preston (pictured outside Parliament House) held pro-life placards at the event and was heckled.
“We may suddenly have no legal protection of the unborn at all,” he said.
Cherish Life Queensland state president Teresa Martin has strongly urged members to contact their local state member urging them not to vote for the bill.
“It is a tragedy that Rob Pyne feels the best way to help women with unexpected or ‘unwanted’ pregnancies is to allow the killing of their unborn baby up to the day of birth,” she said. “People do not know that that is what this bill allows for.
“Abortion during all nine months is already allowed in Victoria (since 2008), Tasmania (since 2013) and the ACT. This proposed private member’s bill being brought by Rob Pyne MP wants the same.”
Ms Martin said the bill contained no conscientious objection clause that would allow doctors, nurses and other medical staff to opt out of performing an abortion.
The Queensland Criminal Code has prohibited abortion since 1899, but case law based on a 1986 ruling means abortions are permissible if there is serious danger to the mother’s life or her physical or mental health.
Amendments introduced in 2009 also allowed for surgical and medical (or chemical) abortions in Queensland.
In NSW, an abortion is only lawful if a woman’s doctor believes on reasonable grounds it is necessary to avoid a serious danger to her life or her physical or mental health, taking into account economic, social and medical factors.
By Mark Bowling