The NSW Upper House Parliament will debate whether abortion should be decriminalised on Tuesday, September 17.
The Hon. John Barilaro, NSW Deputy Premier and state leader of the National Party, spoke to the Armidale Express during his official visit to Tyringham this week:
"Sometimes perceptions trump reality," he said. "All we have done is taken [abortion legislation] out of the Crimes Act, and put it under the Health Act...
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"We should not be treating women like criminals; that is what this is all about. It has been hijacked by some sectors. I respect those in the debate who have always said their views - but they also need to respect our views.
"I am proud as a National Party member that bar two other members, we voted for the new legislation.The Premier and I don't want what happened to women in the past.
"The leadership in this government has chosen to go down this path. We have copped a lot of criticism - but we are proud of what we are doing."
Viewers can livestream the debate in the NSW Upper House, from 2.30pm.
Amendments would require two doctors (one a specialist obstetrician or gynaecologist) to approve abortion for a woman 22 weeks or more into her pregnancy.
Amendments also stipulate that all abortions would take place at a public hospital; doctors must have "informed consent" before performing an abortion; and women seeking abortions would receive mandatory counselling if doctors believe they would benefit.
The Armidale Express on August 23 asked readers: Do you support the decriminalisation of abortion?
Yes: 67.5% (27 votes)
No: 30% (12 votes)
Not sure: 2.5% (1 votes)
Total Votes: 40
The results indicate that readers support decriminalisation.
In May 2017, the last Bill proposing the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW was defeated in the Legislative Council. On August 1, 2019, Alex Greenwich MP introduced the Bill in the NSW Legislative Assembly as a co-sponsored Private Members' Bill. According to the Second Reading speech, the Bill is based on Queensland and Victorian legislation.
A NSW parliamentary research paper released in 2017 indicated that public opinion surrounding abortion legalisation has shown a liberalising trend since the late 1990s, with a majority of Australians supporting abortion.
That support for abortion can depend on the circumstances under which the abortion is requested.
In most Australian states, abortion is legal on request. Abortion is legal for maternal life, rape, health, foetal defects, and / or mental health reasons in South Australia.
Abortion is still a criminal offence in NSW unless exemptions apply. These exemptions have been developed by the courts in the face of statutory ambiguity; jurisdictions prohibit "unlawfully" procured abortions without defining the word "unlawfully".
While the courts in both jurisdictions have attempted to clarify what "unlawfully" means, considerable uncertainty remains, both for the public and the medical profession.
The 2017 research report stated that the prevalence of abortion in Australia cannot be determined conclusively, due to the absence of national statistics.
"South Australia is currently the only jurisdiction in Australia whose laws require it to regularly collect and publish abortion data. In South Australia in 2014, there were 4650 terminations of pregnancy, which represents 13.8 terminations of pregnancy per 1000 women aged 15-44 years,"
The Commonwealth government funds abortion services through Medicare, and regulates the availability of abortion medication.