Great pro-life victory in Australia as bid to decriminalise abortion in NSW is defeated
11 May 2017
A petition opposing the bill gathered 56,559 signatures, and caused an "audible gasp" when it was presented in Parliament.
Pro-lifers in Australia are celebrating a great victory as an extreme bill to completely decriminalise abortion has been defeated in the New South Wales Parliament.
Today, Members of the Legislative Council decisively voted to reject the Abortion Law Reform (Miscellaneous Acts Amendment) Bill introduced by Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi. MLCs voted to reject Dr Faruqi's bill by 25 votes to 14. Not a single government member supported it.
Extreme and dangerous bill
This bill would have legalised abortion up to birth, for any reason. According to Right to Life NSW, it "would also have put women in NSW at greater risk of harm, by removing restrictions against unqualified persons performing an abortion (including self-administered abortions) and failing to provide safeguards to ensure women give fully informed consent." Dr Faruqi's bill would also have removed the right of conscientious objection from doctors, and imposed exclusion zones around clinics, within which it would be forbidden for anyone, even the woman's partner or family to say anything against abortion, on pain of a jail sentence.
Even bodies who are broadly in favour of changing the law opposed the bill. Professor Brad Frankum, President of the Australian Medical Association, told the Australian Daily Telegraph that "AMA (NSW) has reservations with the Greens' bill in terms of how broadly it applies and how loosely it defines important issues. Additionally, the punitive focus on conscientious objector doctors, instead of developing pathways for women seeking abortion, is another problem with the bill."
Pro-abortion protesters were threatened with expulsion from the public gallery after the defeat led to cries of shame.
Huge petition in opposition
In the weeks leading up to the vote, pro-lifers in New South Wales, especially in Sydney, the state capital, mobilised to collect signatures for a parliamentary petition opposing the extreme bill. LifeSiteNew's South Australian correspondent writes that "an audible gasp filled the chamber" when Hon. Greg Donnelly MLC presented the petition - it contained 56,559 signatures, one of the largest in the New South Wales Parliament's history.
"It was much bigger than expected. I never thought we would get that many. We were really hoping to get 10,000" said petition coordinator Rebecca Gosper from Youth For Life. What started as a Facebook page evolved into a campaign involving 160 churches, sporting, and general community groups.
"People were really receptive in that regard and were keen to do something practical to make a difference in New South Wales," Miss Gosper said. The two-week time frame was motivating for people and the short length didn't turn out to be an issue. "It was amazing to see how well people responded when they were given the chance."
Isaac Spencer, a former SPUC staff member who is now Campaigns Manager for Right to Life NSW told us: "This is an historic victory for women and unborn children. MLCs have voted decisively to reject this dangerous and extreme bill, which would have completely legalised abortion on demand up to birth. It would also have stripped away legal safeguards for vulnerable women in crisis pregnancies.
"Now pro-lifers need to build on this victory, to grow a culture of life in NSW where every human being is valued and protected by law. Australia is a modern civilised society - it is simply unacceptable that we continue to discriminate against the most vulnerable of all citizens: the unborn."
This news follows attempts to further liberalise abortion in other Australian states. A bill to decriminalise abortion in Queensland was recently withdrawn, while another succeed in the Northern Territory.