PRO-life leaders say a new Queensland private member’s bill seeking to clarify abortion access after 24 weeks’ gestation is an extreme “con job”.
Cairns MP Rob Pyne proposed a new bill, titled the Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016, to regulate the procurement of abortions for women more than 24 weeks pregnant.
The new bill would make late-term abortions legal but only with the consultation of two doctors and on the basis that pregnancy “would involve greater risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the woman than if the pregnancy were terminated”.
The bill does entitle health practitioners the right to refuse assisting an abortion but a doctor would have “a duty to perform” a termination if the procedure would save the mother’s life or prevent serious injury.
Abortion is defined in the Bill as “causing a woman’s miscarriage” by administering a drug, using an instrument, or “any other means”.
Mr Pyne has also demanded in the bill a written notice from the Queensland health minister to declare protection zones around abortion clinics of at least 50m.
Protesting “by any means” would be prohibited in the protected area, with protesters facing up to three months imprisonment for engaging in prohibited behaviour including intending to stop a person from entering a clinic.
This is Mr Pyne’s second bill aimed at decriminalising abortion in Queensland.
Leaders from various pro-life organisations in Queensland have rejected the bill, saying it ignores recommendations and concerns from women, medical practitioners and abortion survivors who have suffered negatively because of an abortion.
Cherish Life Queensland president Julie Borger said Mr Pyne was “trying to fool Queenslanders” into thinking his new bill would restrict late-term abortions.
“Pyne’s new bill is a con job to trick the public into thinking he is protecting viable babies and medical professionals,” Mrs Borger said.
“How can a just, caring and civilised society allow the killing of pre-born babies, particularly those who would be viable outside the womb?”
The inclusion of safe zones has also raised concerns among pro-family lobby group Australian Family Association about whether the bill protected the interests of abortion clinics more than women.
“Pyne’s bill sounds like the abortionists’ dream bill,” AFA spokeswoman Angela Duff said.
“It is exactly what a for-profit abortion centre would like to have; abortion on demand, for any reason, up to nine months with no rights for Queenslanders to peacefully protest.”
Australian Christian Lobby Queensland director Wendy Francis said the new bill was a “draconian” anti-free speech move.
Mrs Francis, who attended a pro-life flash mob outside Parliament House recently, called Queensland politicians to reject the bill on the basis it would legalise the abortion of “healthy babies”.
“Queensland parliamentarians should reject Rob Pyne’s latest crusade to allow healthy babies to be aborted right up to five minutes before birth,” she said.
“In what appears to be an admission that his bill was doomed to fail, Mr Pyne (this week) tabled a second abortion-to-birth bill before the parliamentary committee has even tabled its report into his first bill – due on August 26.”
The parliamentary inquiry into legalising abortion were told by a medical expert who performs abortions up to 20 weeks that Mr Pyne’s original bill would increase the number of terminations in the state.
Another doctor and admitted to performing late-term abortions by injecting potassium chloride into a foetus’ heart, a procedure known as feticide that is outlined in the Queensland Clinical Guideline for Therapeutic Termination of Pregnancy used by public hospitals.
Mr Pyne did not respond to a request for comment by publication deadline.
By Emilie Ng