By Bridget Sielicki
Lawmakers in Western Australia have passed drastic reform laws removing abortion from the criminal code and making it more accessible.
The Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023 eliminates a requirement that women undergo mandatory counseling prior to receiving an abortion and it also removes the stipulation that a woman get a doctor’s referral prior to an abortion.
The new law also has troubling implications for those who may have conscientious objections to abortion — though doctors may object to committing the procedure, they will instead be required to refer women to another provider or offer women information on where an abortion can be obtained.
According to the Australian Christian Lobby, lawmakers also voted down an amendment that would have protected children born alive after an abortion attempt, as well as an amendment that would have prohibited sex-selective abortions.
The decriminalization of abortion means that it is no longer a crime, though an unqualified person who commits an abortion can still be penalized. The law does maintain some restrictions on late abortions but moved the threshold at which these restrictions must take effect from 20 weeks to 23 weeks.
“We believe that it’s everyone’s right to be able to access safe, affordable, and legal reproductive services,” the premier, Roger Cook said Thursday. “It is clear that the community and Western Australian women want these reforms.”
“Abortion care has been treated differently for too long when it is legal and safe mainstream healthcare for women,” said Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson. “This legislation will significantly improve access to abortion care for regional women. With the passing of this bill today the Cook government has taken a big step forward in addressing this inequality.”
It is likely that “abortion care” has been “treated differently” than other “health care” because abortion is quite literally the intentional killing of a human being who happens to be in the womb of his or her mother. It is not healing a disease or treating a condition. True health care heals — it does not deliberately kill.
The Australian Christian Lobby is calling the bill “the most radical and liberal abortion law in the world,” particularly for its failure to protect born-alive survivors.
In an interview with the group’s CEO Michelle Pearse, the Hon. Nick Goiran, a Western Australia lawmaker, called the bill “barbaric,” while Pearse points out the bill dehumanizes not only the preborn child but also newborns.
“I think it’s appalling that in Western Australia an abortion is permitted to be for sex selection, but as concerned as I am about that, the thing that troubles me the most is the idea that babies born alive after an abortion are not mandated to receive the same level of healthcare as any other Western Australian baby,” Goiran said. “Worse than that, in Western Australia we now have the worst law, because we are now the only jurisdiction where the coroner will not be told that these babies have died.” (emphasis added)
“So in no way these babies, even though they’re born alive, they’re outside of the womb, they’ve taken some breaths, but they’re not acknowledged as human beings enough to warrant the report of the death?” Pearse asked.
“They’re considered worthy of having a birth certificate, as a matter of law,” Goiran explained, “But if they subsequently die… and sometimes it takes a matter of hours… those deaths won’t be reported.”
Editor’s note. This appeared at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.