The Australian Christian Lobby has expressed disappointment Tasmania’s upper house has passed legislation which will make it easier to obtain an abortion in the state.
The ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown said abortion is already legal in the state but the passing of today’s Reproductive Health Bill, which removes abortion from the criminal code and puts it in the health code, means abortion in the state will no longer be seen as taking another life by our government but as a mere medical procedure.
“The rights of children are less protected under this framework then being in the criminal code which acknowledges this is not just another medical procedure,” he said.
He said women will have less restrictions to accessing abortion now that they didn’t have to get doctor’s consent for medical or psychological reasons until after 16 weeks.
“This means there’s less likelihood of a woman having informed consent about her decision. The majority of women and girls who have abortions do so because of a lack of support from partners, parents and friends. Research shows 70% of women say they felt they had no alternative to abortion,” he said.
Mr Brown said although aspects of the bill are less objectionable than originally, freedom of conscience hasn’t been upheld.
“The law requires doctors with a conscientious objection to pass on a pamphlet with the options. But many doctors who are opposed to abortion say that they still feel complicit in the process by handing someone a document with a pamphlet of services,” he said.
“Freedom of speech has also been a casuality in this bill with the introduction of fines and the possibility of 12 month jail term for those who might hold a silent vigil outside an abortion clinic,” he said.
Mr Brown has praised those MLCs who voted against the legislation – Windemere MLC Ivan Dean, Launceston MLC Rosemary Armitage, Elwick MLC Adriana Taylor, Montgomery Liberal MLC Leonie Hiscutt and Rumney MLC Tony Mulder.
 Selena Ewing, Women and Abortion: An Evidence-Based Review,2005; a meta analysis of Australian and international research on why women have abortion, compiled for a Women’s Forum Australia parliamentary submission
The ACL’s Tasmanian Director Mark Brown