The NSW Society of Labor Lawyers, the peak association for progressive lawyers who support the labour movement in New South Wales, has delivered an open letter to NSW Labor Members of Parliament in support of decriminalising abortion in New South Wales.
In the letter, the Society urges all NSW Labor MPs to support the passage of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 in the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council, which will be debated from Tuesday. The Bill would repeal provisions of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and create a new system for medical supervision of abortions in New South Wales.
“[T]here is no place in the criminal law of this state for abortion,” the letter begins. “All Australian states and territories have decriminalised abortion, except New South Wales, which continues to favour a penal approach over a regime of medical supervision. The penal approach does not align with community expectations, both within our state and around the country. The new Bill recognises this, removes the antiquated provisions from the Crimes Act, and establishes a statutory regime for medical supervision of abortions.”
The criminal provisions, the letter says, “create uncertainty for both the medical practitioner and the applicant” because there has not been any authoritative criminal appeal judgment on the test set by the 1971 decision inR v Wald. The Bill would was “well-considered and adapted to address the uncertainty for women and medical practitioners who engage with these procedures”.
The letter concludes by encouraging all NSW Labor MPs to vote in favour of the legislation in their respective Houses.