South Australia has become the last state to decriminalise abortion after parliament gave historic reforms the final tick of approval on Tuesday.
The Termination of Pregnancy Bill cleared the upper house this week for a second time – removing abortion from the criminal code and allowing termination after 22 weeks and six days.
The bill, which originated in the Senate, was subject to days of debate in the lower house last month.
It eventually passed but had significant opposition from several MPs who did not agree with the late-term provisions.
Several amendments had to be made to the reforms, including tighter provisions for late-term abortions and an explicit ban on gender selection terminations.
Human Rights Law Centre associate legal director Monique Hurley said it was a “massive win”.
“Abortion will no longer be a criminal offence in South Australia. This is a massive win for reproductive rights and the rights of all people to choose what happens to their own body,” Ms Hurley said.
“Access to a safe, legal abortion is a critical healthcare right.
“We are grateful to countless people who have been fighting for this long overdue reform, which will see abortion finally treated as the healthcare matter it is.
“We pay particular tribute to the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition for their tireless advocacy efforts.”
Ms Hurley said the reform had been a long time coming.
“While it is disappointing that a handful of politicians held people’s health to ransom by forcing some harmful and unnecessary amendments in the lower house, the decriminalisation is a historic moment that we should all be proud of,” she said.
The SA Abortion Action Coalition co-convener Barbara Baird said she was “relieved” the laws had passed.
“Medical professionals can now bring compassion to the delivery of abortion care without the threat of the law,” she said.
“This is especially significant for patients in rural and remote South Australia who have long waited for the removal of legal barriers to accessing the same abortion care as those living in Adelaide.”