- On August 7, 2019
AMA (NSW) is concerned the objective of the Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill risks being derailed by unfounded fearmongering on abortion.
The aim of the Bill was always to keep things for doctors and patients as they are now, with the only major difference being that abortion would be free of the stigma of being on the Crimes Act.
As it stands, the Bill achieves that, and the unfounded horror stories and attempts by people who oppose it, to make it sound as though it would create a radically different framework are absolutely wrong.
The amendments being floated within the Parliament would seek to regulate and control the action of doctors and women and delay treatment for people who need it.
These amendments go against the spirit in which the bill was introduced – in fact, they are a perversion of it.
And, if voted into law, they would mean access to abortion in NSW would become very restrictive by Australian standards.
Abortion is a health service and like all health services, doctors provide them based on long established professional and regulatory frameworks.
The most concerning amendment is a proposal to require abortions to be the subject of a review by a four-person panel.
This would place women at significant risk of unnecessary delay and only add to their suffering, particularly women in regional and rural areas.
In the vast majority of cases, abortions after 22 weeks arise due to a significant abnormality in the foetus.
Families and their doctors already face the most difficult decision of whether to end a wanted pregnancy and these amendments would draw out that process and make it more painful.
Other unnecessary and insulting amendments include:
- seeking to legislate to require doctors to undertake informed consent (as this is already a requirement on doctors)
- amendments regarding specialist care (doctors are professionally bound to act within their scope of practice)
- changes to the wording on conscientious objection (the unamended bill upholds the status quo – doctors already have an obligation not to impede care)
The clear intention of these amendments is to seek to impose an additional burden on medical practitioners and to delay access to care.
The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill is a well-considered and moderate change to the law in NSW.
It reflects on the experiences of all other states in Australia who have undertaken abortion law reform, including, most recently, Queensland.
The proposed Bill reflects existing arrangements and good clinical practice.
Media contact: Lachlan Jones 0419 402 955