Greens want action on abortion: In NSW, the major parties support a woman’s right to choose, but not a change to the status quo. Photo: SuppliedThe Greens will push for abortion to be removed from the Crimes Act in NSW, and for the harassment of women entering and leaving abortion clinics banned.
While Tasmania and Victoria have legalised abortion, in NSW the major parties support a woman’s right to choose, but no change to the status quo.
Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Christine Milne, said discrimination against women has no place in the law, and NSW politicians have the power to remove it.
“I know from the Tasmanian experience how important this reform has been, so it’s time for the women of New South Wales to be treated with the same respect,” she said.
The balance of power in the NSW upper house is held by the anti-abortion Christian Democrats, and Labor has argued abortion reform risks backfiring.
Women in NSW can access abortion under the 1971 Levine district court ruling, which found abortion was legal if there were economic, social or medical grounds to avoid a serious threat to the woman’s physical or mental health.
But Michael Permezel, of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said abortion law reform was needed in NSW.
“The Levine precedent doesn’t give full clarity to health professionals. A clear law is preferred to relying upon a precedent that can be interpreted in different ways,” he said.
NSW Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi said: “Women deserve better than having their reproductive rights and health fall in a grey area of the law.”
She called for the formation of a cross-party working group to progress abortion reform in the next NSW parliament.
Ms Faruqi described the foetal rights bill Zoe’s Law as a “close call” for NSW women, after it passed the lower house but then lapsed.
“We simply can’t keep waiting to campaign against the next piece of regressive legislation. We must get on the front foot to safeguard women’s rights once and for all,” she said.
Accessing abortion was a problem for women in regional areas, who had to travel long distances to the city, or face privacy intrusion as protestors picketed local clinics.
The Greens want a 150-metre privacy zone around clinics. Protest-free zones were introduced in Tasmania.
Mr Permezel said the harassment of patients had become a particular problem in Albury.
“We think that it is really important that the privacy of women attending clinics should not be impinged upon by those who take a contrary view,” he said.