Australia: Amendments banning sex-selective abortion in NSW likely to be opposed

New South Wales Premier, Gladys Berejiklian

MPs in New South Wales, Australia want to ensure a new abortion Bill does not permit abortion on the grounds of the sex of the baby and provides medical care to a baby born alive after an abortion. However, the amendments are likely to be opposed by a majority of MPs.

As an extreme abortion Bill in NSW makes its way through the upper house of the Parliament a number of MPs are attempting to add amendments to soften the Bill which permits abortion up to 22 weeks without any restrictions and abortion up to birth with the consent of two doctors. This radical legislation would also make abortion legal for any reason including sex-selective abortion and abortions based on disability.

Ten Liberal, Labor and crossbench MPs intend to amend this Bill next week so that it explicitly bans abortion on the basis of sex, requires medical care for a baby born alive after a failed abortion and ensures that it remains a crime to coerce a woman into having an abortion.

The MPs also want to ensure there are strict requirements to have an abortion after 20 weeks gestation. The Bill as it is currently written and supported by Premier Gladys Berejiklian, only requires the approval of two doctors for an abortion to be performed after 22 weeks up to birth.

The amendments also contain a proposal for a maximum of seven years jail for health practitioners who fail to adhere to the requirements of the Bill.

The group announced the proposed amendments earlier this week.

According to The Australian, of the 42 MPs in the state’s upper house the majority are thought to be opposed to making any amendments to the legislation.

The Bill has been delayed several times and been heavily criticised for its lack of protections against the possibility of coerced abortions as well as the fact that there is no requirement for counselling. Additionally, there is only limited protection for the rights of doctors who recognise that abortion is not healthcare.

Opponents of this Bill are concerned about its extreme abortion limit. The Bill does not place any limitations on abortions before 22 weeks despite the fact that babies born can be born before this time and are known to have survived and gone on to flourish.

At the same time, in England and Wales, babies in the womb undergoing spinal surgery at 20-24 weeks gestation are given painkillers (although babies being aborted at the same gestation are not).

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“The NSW Abortion Bill is appalling however you look at it. This Bill is not concerned with rare cases where it might be necessary to end a pregnancy prematurely when there is a real danger to the mother’s life. This Bill places no restrictions at all on abortion up to 22 weeks and will, in practice, allow for abortion for any reason up to birth, providing two doctors in the state are willing to approve the abortion”

“Abortion on the grounds of sex overwhelmingly targets girls, to the extent that there are millions of ‘missing’ women and girls in India alone – in large part as a result of sex-selective abortion.”

“It is incredible that an amendment banning abortion on the grounds of sex is likely to be opposed by a number of MPs in the NSW Parliament, and is revealing about just how radical, barbaric and out of touch at least some of these pro-abortion MPs are.”