Termination legislation to go before Parliament
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 6, 31 August 2018, page no. 8
On 15 July, Annastacia Palaszczuk received the Queensland Law Reform Commission’s report into the the state’s termination of pregnancy laws.
The Premier recognises that this is an important health issue for Queensland women, and supports the recommendations to modernise and clarify the legislation.
With almost 1,200 submissions received and considered by the QLRC, there was wide consultation in the process. Importantly for the public, and the workers at health facilities, the recommendations include the need for safety zones around clinics.
The QLRC found terminations should generally be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal matter, and recommended:
- significant reform to the Criminal Code to repeal the current provisions criminalising termination and a new offence be created for an unqualified person to perform (or assist) in a termination, carrying a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment with a provision included to protect a woman from criminal responsibility for a termination
- establishing a legislative regime to regulate the conduct of health practitioners on the basis of a “combined approach”, involving an on-request gestational limit of 22 weeks and a single broad additional ground to be satisfied after that time in consultation with another medical practitioner
- protecting the right of health practitioners to conscientiously object to performing or advising in relation to a termination and refer the woman to another health practitioner who does not have a conscientious objection
- establishing a safe access zone of 150 metres around premises where termination services are ordinarily provided.
The legislation was due to be introduced to Parliament in August. It is strongly hoped that these laws will be passed, and that the LNP will provide its members with the option of a conscience vote, as the ALP has publicly indicated it will.
QTU activists have been campaigning strongly for the change to the legislation, and have been talking to their local state MPs about their views. As unionists representing a feminised workforce in every community in this state, our voices in social campaigning is exceptionally important. Thank you to the men and women of our Union, and those who came long before us, for your activism and voices during this long campaign.