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RANZCP welcomes government report into termination of pregnancy laws in Queensland

20 July 2018

The Queensland Law Reform Commission’s review of termination of pregnancy laws report is now available. 

The report, which makes several recommendations to help ensure that women in Queensland will have access to safe termination of pregnancies including the removal of termination from the Queensland criminal code, has been accepted by the Queensland Government, and will be introduced as legislation for debate to the Queensland Parliament in October 2018.

If the legislation is passed then the following recommendations from the Queensland Law Reform Commission will become law:

  • Pregnancy termination will be removed from the Criminal Code, meaning that termination will no longer be considered a criminal offence and will instead be regarded as a health matter.
  • Termination of a pregnancy will be allowed up to 22 weeks, although doctors will be permitted to conscientiously object and refer the woman to a different practitioner.
  • After 22 weeks seeking a termination will require further discussion about the medical grounds, as well as consultation with an additional medical practitioner.
  • The legislation will also establish a "safe access zone" of 150 meters around clinics to prevent protestors approaching.

Queensland Branch Chair, Associate Professor Brett Emmerson AM said the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) supports all of the Queensland Law Reform Commission’s recommendations, particularly the decision to recognise termination of pregnancy as a health issue rather than a criminal matter.

‘Women should be able to have easy access to safe termination of pregnancy medication or procedures no matter where they live in Queensland.

‘Women’s health, wellbeing, autonomy, and welfare should be the primary goal of termination of pregnancy law reform,’ Associate Professor Emmerson said.

The Queensland Law Reform Commission’s recommendations are broadly in line with the recommendations made in the RANZCP Queensland Branch’s February submission on this issue.

Key recommendations from the RANZCP submission:

  • The law should protect women from criminal responsibility for the termination of their pregnancy.
  • The law should protect medical practitioners who perform terminations in accordance with legal and clinical guidelines.
  • Legal frameworks should be uncomplicated for doctors and patients and clear legislative guidelines should be provided and be easily accessible.

For more information please see the Queensland Branch submission to the ‘Review of termination of pregnancy laws’.