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12 people have been prosecuted under New South Wales' abortion laws. This is one of their stories.

Until the Reproductive Healthcare Reform bill is passed, New South Wales remains the only Australian state or territory that has not modernised its abortion laws.

The historic bill, which passed the lower house earlier this month and is currently being examined in the upper house, is set to decriminalise abortion in NSW.

Although changes may still be made, the new bill states women are allowed terminations up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. After 22 weeks, abortions will be allowed with the approval of two doctors, one of which must be a specialist obstetrician or gynaecologist.

But for the 119 years that ‘unlawful’ abortion has been a criminal offence in NSW, women have suffered the consequences.

In the past 25 years, 12 people have been prosecuted under the NSW Crimes Act 1900 for abortion-related offences according to SBS. Four were found guilty and sentenced.

Most recently in 2017, a mother-of-five was prosecuted for self-administering an abortion drug.

What you need to know about abortion in Australia. Post continues after video.

The 28-year-old Sydney woman, who had five children between the ages of four and nine, was encouraged by her boyfriend of three years to terminate the pregnancy when the foetus was 19 weeks.

She did not act at the time and continued to attend her medical check-ups. At 26 weeks pregnant, her boyfriend again pushed for her to have an abortion.

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When she was informed it was too late by clinics to have a termination, she contacted a man named “Patrick” from Darwin on the internet, who told her it was possible to have a termination up to 30 weeks.

She purchased the abortion drugs, each containing 200 milligrams of misoprostol (a hormone-type substance), for $2000.

The woman consumed a number of the pills at 28 weeks pregnant, and was taken to hospital by a friend after feeling unwell. Doctors then performed an emergency caesarean section and the child was born.

At court, magistrate Geoffrey Hiatt acknowledged the “pro- and anti-abortion” debate, however stated, “It is not the role of this court or for me to express views either way about contentious community issues or to determine matters based on a personal viewpoint.”

“In my view, the clear intent of the parliament was to enact provisions which would hold persons criminally responsible for unlawful acts towards a foetus causing either a miscarriage or an abortion to occur,” he said.

Hiatt found the woman – who pleaded not guilty – had a “clear intent to procure a miscarriage”.

The mother-of-five was prosecuted for self-administering an abortion drug, and convicted for the offence at Blacktown Local Court in 2017. She was placed on a three-year good behaviour bond.

Before her, in 2006, a jury convicted a deregistered doctor for illegally giving a 20-year-old woman drugs to procure a miscarriage in 2002.  The doctor was charged, and given a two-year good behaviour bond.

If the new bill is passed in the upper house, accessing an abortion in NSW will be significantly more safe for not just pregnant women in need, but for doctors as well.


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Tags: abortion , news-3 , news-australia , news-stories
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