NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has made the decision to delay a vote in the upper house on a bill that would decriminalise abortion in the state.
On Tuesday, Deputy Premier John Barilaro confirmed the passage of the decriminalisation bill would be delayed for several weeks. The delay comes amid reports the Premier Gladys Berejiklian has caved to the pressure of her conservative colleagues, who are concerned the bill is being rushed.
The vote was originally expected to take place this week but it is now most likely to occur in mid-September, after amendments have been moved.
“We won’t be able to deal with it this week, we will go off and have our break … and we will come back after that and resume the debate and vote,” Barilaro said.
The NSW premier has faced pressure from opponents of the bill. Tanya Davies, the former minister for women and one of the most vocal in opposition to the bill, has called the situation “a crisis of government”.
“I believe it is a crisis of government we are facing,” she said. “My community is absolutely outraged they have been shut-out and denied any opportunity to participate in this process.”
On Tuesday, Berejiklian denied claims that the legislation had been rushed.
“I have been in parliament for nearly 17 years and I can’t remember a bill having so much debate in the lower house,” she told reporters.
Thousands of pro-life protesters – including federal MP Barnaby Joyce – lined the streets near state parliament on Tuesday evening as the debate in the upper house continued well into the night.
Chair of the NSW Pro-Choice Alliance, Wendy McCarthy has said the delay is a perverse and ridiculous waste of time.
“Nothing will change in the next 3 weeks, but the same group of MPs… will continue to present distorted information, disrespect women and make more attempts to further frustrate the process,” she said.
“This is an absurd situation where the government is ignoring the experts – the doctors, the women’s health organisations, the lawyers and domestic violence experts who have all endorsed this bill. Instead, they are being swayed by a few hysterical voices who have no interest or expertise in caring for women, and do not reflect the majority view of the community.”
On Tuesday night while appearing on the ABC’s The Drum, Jane Caro said there was a sense of desperation about delaying the bill.
“I think it is a last gasp for those who oppose a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body and reproductive health,” she said.
“I think it is a last gasp for those who oppose a woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body and reproductive health. There is a sense of desperation about it.” @JaneCaro on delaying the final vote on the NSW abortion bill until mid-September. #TheDrum #auspol pic.twitter.com/cCOAkI2Sgk
— ABC The Drum (@ABCthedrum) August 20, 2019