Bill To Decriminalise Abortion Passes NSW Upper House
A bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW is now only one vote away from becoming law, after finally passing the state's upper house.
Sleep-deprived MPs finally settled on a series of amendments to the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill on Wednesday night, after a fortnight of debating more than 40 amendments.
The amended bill -- which takes abortion out of the criminal code -- passed 26 votes to 14.
It will now return to the lower house on Thursday morning, where it is expected to pass.
“The Legislative Council has clarified and expanded some provisions of the bill, while voting down several amendments that would have created barriers for women seeking safe access to an abortion,” independent MP Alex Greenwich -- who introduced the original bill -- said in a statement.
“In consultation with members of the working group who brought the bill to the Parliament and the health minister, it is my view that these amendments should be accepted.
“With the passage of this bill abortion will be decriminalised in NSW – I am sorry that has taken us so long."
Under the legislation, terminations will be allowed up to 22 weeks. Later abortions will also be permitted if two doctors agree.
Among the amendments passed by MPs on Wednesday night was the recognition doctors performing abortions after 22 weeks can seek advice from a multi-disciplinary team of hospital advisory committee.
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At more than 40 hours, the bill's debate is the third-longest ever seen in the NSW upper house.
The draft legislation has been opposed by religious groups, anti-abortion activists and several MPs who raised concerns about late-term and sex-selective abortions, conscientious objection and the way the bill was introduced.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian faced internal revolt over the debate, with three rogue MPs angry with her handling of the bill attempting to move a spill motion against her last week.
The MPs, who ultimately withdrew the motion, said it had been made clear to the premier that "at an absolute minimum" four key amendments were required to the bill to ensure continued Liberal Party membership.
The amendments included a ban on sex-selective abortions and stricter regulation of late-term abortions.
Amendments passed in the upper house include one clarifying that doctors must provide appropriate care to babies born alive after a termination.
Another states the NSW parliament opposes sex-selective abortions, and a future report on the issue is to include prevention recommendations.