find the latest legal job
Senior Lawyer - Planning and Environment
Category: Environment and Planning Law | Location: Leichhardt NSW 2040
· Permanent, full time position · Attractive TRP reflective of the size of the role
View details
Senior Lawyer - Commercial
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Leichhardt NSW 2040
· Permanent, full time position · Attractive TRP reflective of the size of the role
View details
Insurance Lawyer (2-3 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Exceptional Career Opportunity · Brisbane Based
View details
Associate Litigator
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: East Perth WA 6004
· access to Directors · advancement for talented lawyers
View details
Acciona Energy | In-House | Property | Legal Counsel
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Renewables focus · Use your property law skills to make a difference
View details
Lawyer sets record straight on NSW crime of abortion

Lawyer sets record straight on NSW crime of abortion


The decision made by NSW Parliament earlier this month to derail a reform bill that would have taken abortion out of the state Crimes Act was marred in a campaign of misinformation, according to one lawyer.

Anna Kerr from the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has described the rejection of a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW as the being result of a political campaign to disperse misinformation about the proposed law reform.

There was a lot of misinformation put out that this was about late-term termination, such isn’t the case.

In fact, by making abortions more accessible [there is likely to be] fewer late-term interventions,” Ms Kerr said.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly about the 24 to 14 vote down of the bill proposed by Greens MLC Dr Mehreen Faruqi in May, the lawyer set the record straight about the current status quo of the criminal law in NSW and the implications it has for women.

According to the 100-year-old law, women who access abortion services and their doctors are liable for imprisonment for a maximum of 10 years.

“There is also quite a lot of misunderstanding in this area, when you talk about [abortion]. Because people think that it’s already legal – they don’t know really what this whole debate is about,” Ms Kerr said.

“I think women really need to realise this is quite an important issue. Although it may seem remote from some women’s lives, because they have this access, for many women in our community it is still an inaccessible healthcare,” she said.

The co-chair of the ALHR women and girls subcommittee said the ramifications were worse for regional women, who faced additional barriers accessing health services.  

For example, abortion is not covered by the public healthcare system and women who do elect to undergo the medical procedure need about $500 on hand.

Ms Kerr added that by keeping abortion in the state’s Crimes Act, NSW politicians were acting contrary to international law and the modern position of most other states and territories in Australia.

Citing articles 12 and 16 Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the fundamental issue is really about women’s self-determination, she said.

“It’s very important that women own a position to determine their own medical care and make their own choices.

“These provisions that are in the Crimes Act were drafted before women had the vote. Things have moved on, and that legislation is really out of step with community attitudes,” Ms Kerr said.

“These decisions are for women to make, and it’s a private decision that they should make in consultation with their doctors and families. But it’s their decision, not the decision of the men in Parliament.”

Ms Kerr went on to note the three objectives of the Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill 2016 were to declassify abortion as a crime in NSW; compel those doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion, to refer patients to other health professionals; and create a 150-metre exclusion zone from protest around abortion clinics.

By blocking law reforms to take abortion out of the Crimes Act, the NSW Parliament was perpetuating ambiguity about the lawfulness of the medical procedure in the state, she said.

“It really was a bit of housekeeping to get those [provisions] removed from the Crimes Act.”

“Women take these rights for granted, and we are seeing [other] various services for women being dismantled at a rapid rate.

“But I think the wider community’s still not aware the extent to which that’s happening,” she said.

In Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT have all enacted legislation to legalise the medical procedure.

Like this story? Read more:

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Vic Bar commends funds to back victims of crime

Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Budget allocation
Jun 26 2017
SA Law Society says budget allocation for courts a ‘stopgap solution’
The South Australian government has kicked in over $30 million for upgrades to the state’s courts ...
Promotion, corporate ladder, Macpherson Kelley, Australian firm, principal, special counsel, senior associate and associate roles
Jun 26 2017
Australian firm promotes 15
An Australian firm has announced it has promoted 15 to principal, special counsel, senior associate ...
Vinnies CEO Sleepout, Clarence Kunnel
Jun 26 2017
Lawyers out in the cold for a cause
Leaders of the legal profession have spent a rough night on the streets to help raise funds for serv...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...