Skip navigation

Motion: Abortion Decriminalisation Anniversary

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (16:53): I move:

That this council—

1. Notes that on 7 July 2023, South Australia will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the commencement of the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021;

2. Recognises the decriminalisation of abortion as a milestone in the pursuit of reproductive rights, gender equality and bodily autonomy;

3. Encourages further initiatives and funding to ensure equitable access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including improving accessibility to early medication abortions and comprehensive contraceptive education; and

4. Supports ongoing efforts to monitor and evaluate the impact of the decriminalisation of abortion in South Australia, including best practices, accessibility, and quality of care.

This motion that I move today is that this council notes that on 7 July 2023 South Australia will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the commencement of the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021. It goes on to recognise the decriminalisation of abortion as a milestone in the pursuit of reproductive rights, gender equality and bodily autonomy in our state, and encourages further initiatives and funding to ensure equitable access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including improving accessibility to early medication abortions and comprehensive contraceptive education. It also supports ongoing efforts to monitor and evaluate the impact of the decriminalisation of abortion in our state, including best practice, accessibility and quality of care.

I am proud to move this motion today, but I do not stand alone. A lot of work went into the decriminalisation of abortion in South Australia, and I acknowledge the hard work of many in this chamber, including the Hon. Michelle Lensink, the Hon. Irene Pnevmatikos and the Hon. Connie Bonaros, just to name a few. I reflect also on the tireless and extraordinary work of the previous Minister for Health and Wellbeing, the then Hon. Stephen Wade, who will continue to be not only honourable but honoured in this place.

Before decriminalisation, abortion was governed by a 1969 reform to the Criminal Law Consolidation Act. South Australia became the first Australian jurisdiction to legislate for the lawful medical termination of pregnancy. The provision of abortion services was increasingly provided in the public sector since that time, and it has been estimated that over 95 per cent of all abortions were provided in hospitals across metropolitan Adelaide. Only 10 per cent of country residents were able to access an abortion service in the regions, meaning that 90 per cent had to travel to Adelaide to receive treatment.

Calling to take abortion out of the criminal code was no short campaign and no easy one. For over 50 years the termination of pregnancy sat within that criminal code. We know the choice to terminate a pregnancy is not an easy decision to make, and having it governed by criminal law made that decision unnecessarily more difficult for doctors and for those who sought medical treatment.

Taking abortion out of the criminal code has cleared the way for pregnant people in our state to access abortion services from GP practices and other primary care settings, including telehealth, effectively on request of the pregnant person. It allows for abortion over 22 weeks and six days following consultation with two physicians and both agreeing that the procedure is necessary for foetal or maternal health. This would not have happened without the determination of many health workers, lawyers, community advocates and, in particular, the tireless work of the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition.

Decriminalisation has helped to overcome a significant barrier to improved care, especially significant for those residents in rural and remote parts of our state, but in reality there are still many remaining issues that impede access to and impede the quality of abortion services in our state. Increased access has placed increased pressure on our health system. Only 17 per cent of doctors who are registered to prescribe early medication abortions have done so. Waiting times in metro public hospitals have increased from two weeks to four weeks post-decriminalisation.

Over 70 per cent of abortion care is provided through the Pregnancy Advisory Centre; however, the Pregnancy Advisory Centre (PAC) has only two locations in our state, so this is not the ideal situation. While we have made many steps in the right direction, we need to keep moving forward to help improve health care and access in our state. We need government action to address inadequate access, to improve the quality of care and to maximise efficiency in service delivery.

I draw the attention of members to the SAAAC recommendations for members of this council. SAAAC has recommended that the parliament and members of parliament commit to:

maintaining and extending public provision of abortion care in metro and regional hospitals;

resource and support professional development for doctors in regional hospitals to gain and maintain skills in the provision of medical and surgical abortion;

establishing an abortion information service, similar to 1800 My Options which exists in Victoria, which will enable patients to have timely and well-informed access to care;

support centralised intake to public services to remove barriers to timely and dignified access and avoid delays associated with gestation at presentation;

develop and resource a nurse-led public telehealth service, and I note that that exists elsewhere in this nation and in some places has done so for some time;

support and monitor GPs in primary healthcare settings to begin to provide medical abortion alone or in collaboration with an agency such as SHINE SA;

review the adequacy and quality of existing hospital provision of services for late abortion, with a commitment to choice of method of abortion for those who need this service;

consult with the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia regarding the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South Australia regarding abortion care in order to inform all future reforms; and

consult with members and representatives of the disability community regarding the abortion care needs of people with disabilities, and that we consult with SHINE SA or other suitable agencies for supporting and promoting respect for sexual and gender diversity in all abortion services.

I again thank the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition, which continues to advocate for abortion-related health care. Abortion care is health care, and it is important that we continue to remain vigilant on these hard-fought-for rights and access to essential health care. With that, I commend the motion.

Continue Reading

Read More

Motion: Greyhound Racing

April 11, 2024

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I move: That this council— 1. Notes: (a) the 86 recommendations arising from the extremely critical findings of the Ashton Independent Inquiry into the Governance of the Greyhound Racing Industry report; (b) the consequent December 2023 pledge by the Malinauskas...

Read more

Motion: Parliament (Joint Services) (Clerks) Amendment Bill

March 22, 2024

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Parliament (Joint Services) Act 1985 and to make a related amendment to the Constitution Act 1934. Read a first time. Second Reading The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I move:...

Read more