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Push For Changes To WA Abortion Bill

by | Wed, Sep 13 2023

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The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is pushing for changes to proposed abortion laws in Western Australia, which will effectively allow the procedure up to birth.

It wants WA’s Upper House to include several provisions that are in South Australia’s abortion laws. They are a ban on sex-selection abortions; mandatory care for babies born alive after a procedure; and a requirement that counselling information is provided. The ACL also wants mandatory considerations prior to any late-term abortion; mandatory pain relief for unborn babies after 13-weeks; and provision of all options if a Down Syndrome baby is likely. Labor MLC Kate Doust and Liberal MLC Nick Goiran support the amendments.

Health minister Amber-Jade Sanderson labelled it “a misinformation campaign from the pro-Christian lobby” that was scaring the community with the proposed amendments in an e-petition. Mr. Goiran pointed out that if the minister had checked Hansard, it would have revealed that everything that he was saying was factually correct.

ACL WA Director Peter Abetz says Ms. Sanderson has marketed the Abortion Legislation Reform Bill as being necessary to “bring Western Australia in line with other states” and to “modernise” the legislation. “The reality is the bill does neither,’ said Mr. Abetz, adding: “It is appalling that the bill does not include four important provisions which South Australia added into its Termination of Pregnancy Act in 2021 to address current issues in abortion.”

The state’s lower house has passed the bill with alacrity. It increases the threshold for abortion on demand from 20 weeks gestation to 23 weeks, with procedures after that only requiring a single doctor’s agreement, even through a telehealth consultation from another state. It has dropped a previous pre-abortion counselling requirement.

The ACL claims “public opinion surveys indicate that a majority of more than 60% of the population opposes abortions after 13 weeks, with 76% opposing abortions after 24 weeks.”

National Director Wendy Francis told Vision Radio: “One of the things that is particularly concerning is that they have made sure that even under 16-year-olds do not have to get parental permission to have an abortion, so a child can go and have an abortion without their parent even really knowing. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is concerned about that. The AMA is also concerned that you can get approval for an abortion under this proposed legislation, even from a doctor on the phone from interstate. So not even aware of [a patient’s] particular circumstances,” she said.

The ACL is urging WA residents to write to their MLCs to support the amendments. Mr. Abetz said that at the next election, the ACL  would be reminding voters how the members voted on these amendments.