A letter from Wendy McCarthy AO on the occasion of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 passing in NSW
Dear Members and Supporters,
I am delighted to formally write to you and share the news that 119-year-old laws criminalising abortions have been overturned and the new Abortion Law Reform Bill 2019 has passed through NSW Parliament .
I am delighted that under the leadership of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, Family Planning NSW and Women’s Health NSW, our collective strength as health, legal, women’s and human rights organisations has been heard. The Alliance would also like to acknowledge the collaboration and leadership from the Human Rights Law Centre.
As you will recall, in May we committed to seeing abortion decriminalised in NSW and the the bill was brought to the NSW Parliament by a cross-party group of MPs in July.
By that time the Alliance had grown to represent more than 70 expert organisations and your steadfast support, guidance and advocacy through this process cannot be under-estimated.
The new legislation explicitly acknowledges a woman’s right to make choices as an equal alongside her doctor and removes the stigma of criminality from this common healthcare procedure, which around 1 in 4 women have had.
For too long women in NSW sought abortions under the threat of prosecution and this also made it difficult for healthworkers to provide care.
This legislation is a chance for new generations to enjoy a freedom to control their own reproductive health and it is fitting given more than 70 per cent of NSW voters support the decriminalisation of abortion.
The new legislation is also a chance for each of us working in our various roles to look to reform access and equity issues that have plagued abortion services for decades. The criminalisation of abortion affected the most vulnerable women most harshly as it is those living in rural areas, from minority communities and low socio-economic backgrounds who have been least able to access equitable care.
It is now time for each of us to move forward with the legislation and improve how we care for NSW women.
Again, I thank you for your support and participation in realising this historic reform.
Wendy McCarthy AO
Women's Electoral Lobby, Family Planning NSW and Women's Health NSW