Written by Jacob Miley, edited for online by Sam Mortimer
A crowd of women’s rights advocates gathered outside Parliament House as Queensland Independent MP Rob Pyne presented a bill aimed at decriminalizing abortion in the state.
Abortion was prohibited under the Queensland Criminal Code in 1899.
The Women’s Right to Choose Rally met Mr Pyne outside State Parliament.
“I am here standing on the shoulders of many women, who have campaigned long and hard on this issue over Queensland for many years,” he said.
Mr Pyne tabled a straight decriminalization bill aimed at starting a conversation about reforming abortion law.
“What it will do is start a debate, where by this’ll be referred to a committee, and as a community and as a parliament, we can have a serious debate around abortion law reform in the state of Queensland.”
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad also attended and announced her support of Mr Pyne’s bill.
“It’s an exciting day and can I pay tribute to Rob for bringing forward a piece of legislation that, as he says, will start a very important discussion and debate in Queensland,” Ms Trad said.
The Deputy Premier said social change only came around once a generation, and the movement needed to be grabbed with both hands.
Mrs Trad told the crowd that she was unashamedly pro-choice.
“What a woman decides to do with her body in consultation with her doctor, does not belong in the criminal code. It’s time that parliamentary law catches up with precedent law.”
The ALP, Mr Pyne’s former party, backed his initiative by allowing members a conscious vote, which guarantees support from Labor representatives in parliament.
He remained optimistic the Liberal National Party would also allow a conscious vote.
Mr Pyne said he decided to push the bill following a high-profile case in Cairns regarding abortion, and the subsequent conversation around the issue following that case.
He said Queenslanders are not aware that abortion is in the Criminal Code.
“Most Queenslanders are surprised that abortion’s still a crime and are supportive of reform when they find out abortion’s a crime in Queensland.”
Abortion evades criminal law when it is proven that the abortion is necessary to preserve the woman from serious danger to her life or physical and mental health.
Kate Marchesi, a volunteer for Pro Choice Queensland and one of the organizers behind the Women’s Right to Choose Rally, hoped Mr Pyne’s bill started a conversation about abortion law reform.
“I think the majority of Queenslanders are on-board with decriminalizing abortion. I don’t think the majority of Queenslanders think that women seeking abortions are criminals, and I think the law just needs to change to reflect that,” she said.