Experts and leading health, legal and community groups have called on members of the South Australian parliament to vote in support of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020, as debate begins in the state’s lower house this week.
Thirty-two groups, including the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the South Australian branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, and the Public Health Association of Australia, have signed an open letter to parliamentarians urging them to support the reform in an upcoming conscience vote.
The proposed legislation would remove abortion entirely from criminal law, treating it only as a health issue, and includes provisions relating to abortion care later in pregnancy, as well as provisions to ensure health practitioner’s personal beliefs do not impact patient care. It would bring South Australian abortion laws into line with the rest of Australia.
“The Bill promotes the autonomy, dignity and wellbeing of patients who need to end a pregnancy – by providing a pathway to a more compassionate reproductive healthcare system for South Australians,” the open letter, led by Fair Agenda and the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition, said.
The letter reads: “The Bill promotes the autonomy, dignity and wellbeing of patients who need to end a pregnancy – by providing a pathway to a more compassionate reproductive healthcare system for South Australians.” pic.twitter.com/k4mClygC7Y— Fair Agenda (@FairAgenda) February 14, 2021
Executive Director of Fair Agenda, Renee Carr, said the bill is about creating a more compassionate healthcare system in South Australia and removing barriers so that patients can access the healthcare they need.
“It will finally allow South Australians the dignity of making decisions about their own reproductive healthcare, and introduce a legal framework similar to that already in place in Victoria, NSW and Queensland.” Carr said.
The joint letter notes the “profoundly personal and complex circumstances in which patients need abortion care later in pregnancy”.
“Given this, we strongly support the approach outlined in the Bill, which enables patients and medical professionals to jointly make decisions about their healthcare needs after 22 weeks and 6 days in pregnancy,” the letter said.
“We consider the proposed Bill provides an approach that is both medically appropriate and compassionate for the patients facing these distressing circumstances.”