Abortion has now been decriminalised across Australia after legislators in the country’s most populous state New South Wales on Thursday voted to overturn the laws that date back to 1900 after weeks of contentious debate, AFP reported.
The century-old law earlier made abortion punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It was considered legal only if doctors believed continuing the pregnancy would do serious harm to the woman’s health.
The new legislation allows terminations for women who are up to 22 weeks pregnant. Beyond that, the consent of two doctors approving the abortion will be necessary. The legislation introduced by independent lawmakers was delayed for months by a small group of conservatives from the ruling Liberal Party who were against the changes.
“Abortion has been decriminalised in NSW,” Independent legislator Alex Greenwich, one of the sponsors of the bill, wrote in a tweet. “Sorry it took so long.”
“My deepest gratitude goes to my parliamentary colleagues and to the dedicated women’s rights campaigners who have fought toward this for decades,” he added in a statement.
Anthony Fisher, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, said the vote was a “dark day” for the state, Reuters reported.
In a statement, he said: “It may be the worst law passed in New South Wales in modern times, because it represents such a dramatic abdication of responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.”
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