Northern Australia has reformed its law on abortion in order to “harmonise it with the rest of Australia”. This “far-reaching” reform decriminalises abortion and involves a certain number of measures:
It authorises the use of RU486 (abortion medication), grants clinics the option to perform abortions, restricts the conscience clause of doctors who should direct women to another colleague and establishes “secure access zones”around clinics and hospitals to “prevent them from harassment”. One doctor’s consent is still required for abortions up to 14 weeks whilst two doctors have to authorise an abortion between the 14th and 23rd week of pregnancy. However, the consent of both parents is no longer mandatory for minors.
This reform was voted in by 20 votes to 4, “after several years of debate and fruitless attempts”. Amongst opponents to the draft bill, MP Gerry Wood submitted numerous amendments, including to reduce the sentence for “obstructing abortion” or for a mandatory consultation prior to abortion. None of the amendments were upheld.
The Guardian, Helen Davidson (22/03/2017); BBC (21/03/2017)