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Woman with her pregnancy test equipment
Woman with her pregnancy test equipment

广东时时彩投注 Abortion has been a jailable offence in Queensland since 1899, but that may soon change with government-backed legislation to decriminalise the procedure going to parliament next month.

Every year, hundreds of women in Queensland travel thousands of kilometres interstate to undergo abortion procedures. For a state more than twice the size of Texas, that's an especially long journey for women in isolated regional areas.

It's estimated in the first six months of 2018, 60 women from far north Queensland travelled interstate to have an abortion.

About 65,000 women undergo abortions in Australia every year.

Queensland has the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. While every other state and territory except New South Wales has removed abortion from its criminal code, the Sunshine State has stuck with a nineteenth century statute.

In December last year, the state's Labor government asked the Queensland Law Reform Commission (QLRC) to look into abortion law reforms.

The QLRC report, which state parliament tabled today, recommends making abortions legal.

It includes:

  • Abortion available up to 22 weeks
  • Available after 22 weeks with permission of two doctors
  • 150-metres safe access zone to block protesters at abortion clinics
  • Doctors allowed to refuse to perform procedures on moral grounds

Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her party's caucus has endorsed the reforms and legislation will go to parliament on August 16, and then be debated for a week in October.

"This gives ample time for consideration," she said.

"This has been an issue that has been at the forefront of women's health now for decades.

Liberal National Party Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said a conscience vote may be "appropriate" but stopped short of guaranteeing this would happen.

But will it get through parliament?

Queensland doctors can currently administer abortions legally if they believe continuing a pregnancy is a risk to a woman's physical or mental health.

In NSW they can do this too, but since a 1971 common law precedent they can take into account social and economic factors, such as whether the pregnant woman can afford to raise a child, and their readiness to be a mother. For this reason, many Queensland women travel to Sydney to obtain abortions, according to health professionals.

A woman who "unlawfully" has an abortion in Queensland can be sent to prison for up to seven years. And anyone "unlawfully" performing an abortion can be jailed for up to 14 years.

Queensland has prosecuted abortions as recently as 2010.

For the proposal to become law, it will have to make it through state parliament. Other abortion reforms have failed in the past. In 2016, the independent MP Rob Pyne attempted to introduce a reform bill that was rejected after a parliamentary inquiry.

Last year, the NSW state parliament voted down legislation to decriminalise abortion.

In June, a proposal to create 150-metre 'safe access' zones around abortion clinics cleared NSW parliament with overwhelming support.

Research shows the majority of Australians support laws allowing women to access safe and legal abortions, including after 24 weeks' gestation.

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