Women are being forced to spend thousands of dollars at private clinics or flying interstate for terminations because of Queensland’s restrictive reproductive laws, a Brisbane Law Professor has said.
Abortion is the only medical procedure to feature in the Queensland Criminal Code.
Management committee of Children by Choice and University of Queensland School of Law Professor Heather Douglas said women in rural Queensland are struggling to access abortion services because of state laws.
She said many doctors are reluctant to get involved in this grey area of the law.
“So in Queensland basically abortions are illegal so its actually unlawful to provide abortion, unless the doctor believes that the woman’s physical or mental health is in serious danger,” Professor Douglas said.
“As a general rule, in Queensland terminations take place in private clinics. And as a general rule, public hospitals don’t do terminations.
“In more remote towns like Cairns, there are no doctors willing or able to provide surgical terminations, so women are being flown, usually to other states to receive terminations.”
In February this year, Labor promised to refer the current abortion laws to the Queensland Law Reform Commission and to place a bill before Parliament next term.
Professor Douglas said the problem is that in some cases, women in Queensland are having to go to court to determine if they are able to proceed with an abortion.
“Because Queensland’s regulatory regime says that abortion is unlawful, the act is considered a criminal offence to the woman, the doctor, the receptionist and anyone involved in the termination,” Professor Douglas said.
“Woman are still being dragged through criminal proceedings in Queensland for these types of matters, it’s ridiculous.”