Queensland Senator Larissa Waters says the majority of Australians support abortion – but too many women can’t access these services.
Even in 2015 in Australia, there are still a few ultra-right-wing, out-dated voices trying to undermine women’s reproductive rights.
Thankfully though, there is a whole host of amazing women – leaders in advocacy, medicine, allied health and law – who are working to ensure women have the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion and access to one if they do choose to.
I had the opportunity to hear from many of these women on Friday at the Abortion in Australia conference, held in Brisbane by leading Queensland women’s organisation Children by Choice.
Abortion law was a key focus, and the myriad of differing rules depending on where you live makes it difficult for women to understand their options.
Read more: “I owe my life to my mother’s abortion.”
It is possible to get an abortion in any State or Territory in Australia (you can find more info here), but the circumstances and restrictions differ.
It’s shocking and thoroughly unacceptable that in Queensland and New South Wales, abortion is technically considered a crime – it’s listed in our antiquated criminal laws, literally written in the 1800s.
These ridiculously archaic laws can make what is already a difficult decision all the more confusing, stigmatised and disempowering.
When nearly a third of Australian women will seek an abortion over their lifetime, it’s time our laws reflected modern values that trust women and empower them to make decisions about their own bodies. Abortion should be decriminalised. And more than that, it should be safe, legal and affordable.
More than 80 per cent of Australians believe a woman should have the right to choose whether or not she has an abortion.
While a woman’s right to choose is widely accepted by the community, the reality is that abortion is out of reach for many women because it’s too expensive, services are too far away, or both.
For example in Western Australia, all public and private services are in Perth, leaving extremely limited access outside the capital city of this massive state.
While in Queensland where abortion is technically a crime except for some particular prescribed circumstances, 99% of abortions are carried out through the private health system – where they can cost between $500 and $1000.
Wonderful not-for-profit organisations like Children by Choice, of which I am proud to be a patron, exist to give women free unbiased, counselling and to help women choosing to have an abortion to cover the costs and to get to a clinic.