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New abortion bill will bring NSW ‘into the 21st century’, says Health Minister

NSW will become the last state in Australia to decriminalise abortion if Parliament passes a new bill set to be introduced this week. 

Abortion in NSW is currently regulated under the Crimes Act 1900, carrying a maximum sentence of ten years for illegal terminations.

But a new Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill, being introduced by independent MP Alex Greenwich this week, will instead see abortion regulated as a medical procedure.

It would allow terminations on request for women who are up to 22 weeks pregnant. After this time, women may have an abortion if two doctors agree it is necessary for physical, social or psychological reasons.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard tells Steve Price the bill has support from a united group of cross-party MPs.

“There are a number of us across the Parliament who believe that it’s time to bring it into the 21st century and to deal with it on the basis of a medical issue.”

He says he doesn’t believe abortion should be regulated under the Crimes Act.

“That means that when the woman and the doctor are discussing what is one of the most challenging and difficult issues that any of us could ever face in our lives, the possibility of a jail term, the fact that it’s a potential criminal offence has to be considered in that context.

“Certainly I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

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There is expected to be opposition to the bill from some within Parliament and external groups are already promising to protest.

Just last week, debate around the issue flared up over a billboard that questioned a woman’s right to abortion.

Activists fighting to take down anti-abortion billboard


Image: Getty / Lisa Maree Williams