Time to decriminalise abortion

9 September 2008

LIBERTY Victoria supports the Victorian Government’s measures to decriminalize abortion. “Regulation of abortion should be like any other medical procedure,” Anne O’Rourke, Vice-President of Liberty Victoria, said, “Liberty Victoria welcomes the Brumby Government’s move to decriminalize abortion”.

“The Abortion Law Reform Bill should be passed without amendment. Attempts to impose compulsory counseling on women should be rejected by the Government. It is an offensive idea that displays no respect for women and undermines their autonomy.”

The Abortion Law Reform Bill is long overdue. It will bring the law into step with Australia’s international human rights obligations under Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Article 16 of CEDAW provides that States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations, and in particular shall ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

“The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights.”

“The law in Victoria must be brought into conformity with that right. While Liberty Victoria supports freedom of religion and a person’s right to make free decisions in their choice of religious faith, Liberty Victoria does not believe that personal religious belief should govern public policy. Ministers do not have a right to impose their religious views on the public nor should Parliament allow them to do so”.

“Those who oppose abortion need not seek to have an abortion. They do not have the right to prevent others from making their own decisions in respect of reproduction”. Liberty Victoria supports the Victorian Government’s attempt to decriminalize abortion and believes that such a measure will provide better health care and services to women while also respecting women and couple’s autonomy and right to determine their own reproductive lives.