The Western Australian Parliament is set to vote on new state abortion laws later this month. The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) believes they will effectively allow terminations on demand up to birth.
It’s WA Director Peter Abetz told Vision Radio: “Up until now, the 1998 legislation has been in place when Western Australia was the first state to legalise abortion and you could only have an abortion up to 20 weeks. You needed two doctors to agree that it was appropriate. Post 20 weeks you needed to get approval from two doctors from a panel of ten that the Minister of Health appoints, to say that it was in fact medically appropriate to have that abortion. As a result of that, we only have about 70 to 80 late term abortions in Western Australia and generally they were only allowed for conditions not compatible with life.”
“But the legislation that’s been read into Parliament now, that’s ready for debate when Parliament goes back this month, basically says that after 23 weeks you can have abortions for any or no reason up to 23 weeks. You don’t need a referral from a doctor. You go straight to the abortion clinic. Post 23 weeks, you just need to get one extra doctor to say that the abortion is justified. So psychosocial reasons for abortion for late term abortions will be acceptable which will no doubt see a massive increase in the number of late term abortions,” Mr. Abetz stated.
17,500 health professionals and members of the WA public responded to an online survey on six proposed amendments late last year. More than 80% of them were women. The majority backed every change, including fully decriminalising abortion, increasing a gestational time limit for a procedure from 20 to 24 weeks, abolishing mandatory counselling and scrapping the need for a GP referral.
72% supported a new requirement that doctors who conscientiously object to participating in abortion care must refer their patients to someone willing to provide a termination. Around two-thirds supported requiring patients to consult just one medical practitioner rather than the current two before receiving a termination, as well as abolishing mandatory counselling provisions and scrapping the need for ministerial approval to carry out late-term abortions.
Mr. Abetz called it “a survey that’s not really a survey” because the only options for respondents was to maintain the status quo or adopt the proposed reforms. There was no option to oppose abortions or restrict procedures to fewer weeks of gestation. He said many ACL supporters and other pro-lifers declined to make a submission because they didn’t agree with the questions in the survey.
The ACL is still urging WA Christians and other opponents of the abortion reform bill to lobby their MPs to reject the proposed laws. However, it concedes that despite the allowance for a conscience vote, the bill is expected to be passed into law given Labor’s huge majority in the WA Parliament.
Click below to hear more from the ACL’s Peter Abetz on WA’s planned abortion laws: