In short, the situation for individual women seeking an abortion and for doctors prepared to provide it is now totally untenable.
It has now been reported that
Public hospitals in Rockhampton and Mackay are believed to have joined the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in suspending medical abortions, while a service attached to Cairns Base Hospital is also reviewing its legal position.…. more hospitals are set to follow
The Queensland government has tried their best for a quite a few years to ignore the calls to change the state’s laws on abortion. However, whatever your views are on abortion, the issue in Queensland can no longer be avoided by the Queensland Parliament.
Because this issue will always be treated as a conscience vote, it means traditional party controls and discipline do not apply.
If a majority in the Queensland Parliament do believe that abortion should be illegal, then let them have a vote to confirm that. There would obviously be many people unhappy about this outcome, but at least it would provide certainty and clarity about what the law is.
At present, the legal uncertainty means Queensland has the worst of both worlds on the issue. For those who totally oppose abortion, they are still going ahead, and more of them are likely to be done via unsafe ‘do it yourself’ use of drugs. For those who support the right to abortion, no one is sure how the laws apply – also leading to more ‘underground’ or ‘do it yourself’ attempts.
The big benefit of a conscience vote is that it makes each individual member of Parliament individually accountable for what they do. They can’t hide behind the party room or caucus.
There is no doubt this is an issue where have people have very strong and genuinely held beliefs on both sides of the debate. That situation might provide reason to make a special effort to have as respectful a debate as possible, but it is no reason to dodge the debate all together.