Today is International Safe Abortion Day, where campaigns around the world continue to call for the elimination of inequality of access to abortion care. South Australia led the nation by legislating to allow abortion under certain circumstances in 1969, but this legislation is more than 50 years old and leaves South Australia as the only Australian jurisdiction that criminalises abortion and imposes legal barriers to accessing safe, legal abortion care.
South Australia is also one of only two Australian jurisdictions that doesn’t have Safe Access Zones around premises where abortion services are provided, meaning that women seeking health care and workers providing it are regularly harassed, intimidated, and threatened.
The South Australian Abortion Action Coalition will gather on the steps of Parliament House at 4pm today along with supporters to mark International Safe Abortion Day.
In South Australia, abortion is still regulated under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act (1935), and significant barriers to accessing abortion services still exist; particularly for women living in rural and regional areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problems around accessing safe abortion services in South Australia, and highlighted the fact that abortion must be decriminalised as a matter of urgency. Borders have been closed and lockdowns have confined women to their homes, making accessing safe and legal abortions even more difficult for many. South Australia’s requirement for hospital-based abortion care provides a further barrier in that respect as well.
Having previously introduced legislation for the decriminalisation of abortion in South Australia, Greens MLC Tammy Franks is today calling on the Government once again to bring on their promised Bill to decriminalise abortion and implement the recommendations of the South Australian Law Reform Institute report on abortion law reform.
Quotes attributable to Tammy Franks, Greens MLC:
“Just last week we saw a Bill for Safe Access Zones pass in the Lower House. Today is a timely reminder not just of the importance and urgency of passing this legislation in the Upper House, but that South Australia still lags behind in legislating for and providing best practice abortion care."
“Our current laws make it difficult for women to seek appropriate abortion care, and they still allow for women and health care workers to be harassed on a regular basis. This isn’t good enough. Every other jurisdiction in Australia modernized their laws, and it’s time for South Australia to catch up. More than 50 years have passed since we led in this area, and we must now recognize and legislate best practice abortion health care."