Abortion remains a criminal offence in New South Wales after a bill to decriminalise the procedure was shot down in state parliament yesterday.
Cries of “shame” were heard from the public gallery—and rightly so— over the archaic decision. While 14 MPs supported the bill put forward by Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi, a staggering 25 voted against it, the ABC reports.
The Abortion Law Reform bill would have put the state’s abortion laws in line with those in Victoria, the ACT and Northern Territory
Dr Faruqi said the decision was “completely out of step with modern medical practice”.
“This bill was not about promoting or not promoting abortion. It was about choice,” she said.
Around 27,000 abortions are carried out in NSW each year.
But what exactly does this judgment mean? Well, women can still face penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment for seeking out an abortion, and five years in jail for supplying drugs or other items to carry one out, The Daily Telegraph reports.
The bill would have helped prevent women from being mercilessly harassed by protesters through 150-metre safe zones outside abortion clinics and hospitals.
Labor MP Penny Sharpe, who supported the bill, also vented her frustration.
"These laws are now 116 years old, after 116 years these laws are no longer in line with community expectation or modern medical practice," she said. "Abortion should be regulated in the same way as all other surgical and medical practices. Our current law is archaic and unclear."
Hundreds of pro-choice protesters rallied outside parliament holding placards with slogans such as “keep the law out of my uterus”, reports The Daily Telegraph. On Twitter, women shared their disappointment, fury and bewilderment — and we couldn't agree more.