Abortion To Be Decriminalised, Clinic Safe Zones In Queensland
19th century laws to be overturned in proposed policy.
Abortion will be decriminalised in Queensland and safe zones enforced under new laws to be introduced to state parliament.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk released the Queensland Law Reform Commission's (QLRC) review of the state's abortion laws on Monday and announced cabinet had accepted all of its recommendations.
"For too long this archaic law has sat on our statute books," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"This is about bringing Queensland into the 21st century."
Under the new laws women would be able to ask to terminate pregnancies up to 22 weeks and "safe zones" of 150m would be in place around clinics to stop women, their loved ones and staff from being harassed.
The QLRC found abortions should be treated as a health issue and not a criminal matter, but it suggested making it an offence to perform or assist in abortions without qualifications.
The bill is expected to be debated and passed before the end of the year.
Doctors and medical professionals can refuse to perform abortions but must refer patients to someone who will.
The Australian Medical Association's Queensland branch, the Queensland Nurses Union and the Human Rights Law Centre have welcomed the announcement.
"The values of 1899 should not limit a woman's right to access the healthcare they need in 2018," law centre's senior lawyer Adrianne Walters said.
Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington has conditionally agreed to allowing her MPs a conscience vote on the the bill.
Ms Frecklington said a conscience vote "would appear to be appropriate" although she wanted to see the bill first after a failed attempt to decriminalise abortion last year.
Former independent MP Rob Pyne introduced two private member's bills in 2017 but withdrew them at the last minute when it became clear neither would pass.
There were concerns that the bills, as they stood, would have introduced legal complications for women and their doctors, and the Liberal National Party denied its support.
Abortions are legal in Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT, and legal for some medical reasons in South Australia while they are a criminal offence in NSW and Queensland unless, for example, a woman's life is at risk.