26 September 2023

‘Modernisation’ shows way to new abortion laws

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The Department of Health has announced a four-week consultation period to accept community input on the modernisation of the State’s abortion laws.

The aim is to bring Western Australia into line with other jurisdictions and provide better abortion care.

In a statement, the Department said Western Australia’s abortion laws had remained unchanged for almost 25 years and some women were choosing to travel interstate to access care that was either not lawful in WA, or was a challenge to access locally.

“Following consultation, the proposed Bill will address inequity of access in line with other Australian jurisdictions and remove clinically unnecessary barriers for women accessing an abortion,” the Department said.

“Abortion will be fully decriminalised, with the Criminal Code offence to be repealed,” it said.

“However, it will still remain an offence for an unqualified person to perform or assist with an abortion.”

Minister for Health, Amber-Jade Sanderson said the time was right to modernise and update the laws.

“Safe and accessible abortions for Western Australians are important, and we want to hear from women and stakeholders on the key issues,” Ms Sanderson said.

“It can be particularly difficult for women in regional and remote WA where access to GPs may be limited and where access to care is time-critical.”

She said WA women should not face greater barriers to healthcare than their interstate counterparts.

Attorney General, John Quigley agreed, saying the criminal law had no role to play in regulating access to legitimate abortion services.

“The Criminal Code currently raises the risk for medical practitioners and patients that an abortion may be considered a criminal act if certain strict legal requirements are not met,” Mr Quigley said.

“It is entirely inappropriate that such a crucial healthcare service is dealt with in this way.”

He said that following consultation, it was expected the Bill would be introduced into Parliament next year.

The online consultation for public input can be accessed at this PS News link.

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