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RANZCOG Challenges Queensland Abortion Bill Amendment

RANZCOG

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Updated
20 May 2024
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In March 2024 Robbie Katter MP, introduced the into the Queensland Parliament and referred it to the Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee for examination. 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) opposes the Bill, and is actively participating in the Committee’s examination.

The stated objective of the Bill is to legislate protections for babies born live as a result of an abortion. The new Bill seeks to codify the already existent duty of healthcare practitioners to provide babies born live through abortion with the same level of medical care and attention as any other newborn.

In RANZCOG鈥檚 view, the proposed Bill will not contribute meaningfully to any aspect of care that is not already widely practised as a matter of course in accordance with existing clinical, professional, and ethical standards. There is no need for a separate Bill (or law) to instruct doctors on how to provide appropriate care for a patient in specific circumstances.

RANZCOG鈥檚 submission disputes the Bill on the grounds that:

It restricts right of access: Access to abortion is a fundamental right for women and pregnant people enshrined in multiple International Human Rights Treaties, and this Bill interferes with a person鈥檚 legal right to access lawful abortion. Whether intended or not, the Bill will undoubtedly limit access to abortion services, discouraging practitioners from providing abortions due to fear of prosecution.

Doctors have an existing duty of care: This Bill is unnecessary because practitioners have an existing duty of care to all their patients, including babies born alive, whether this happens following an abortion or otherwise. There are already evidence-based guidelines and strict professional standards to guide clinical practice in this area which ensure care is safe and effective. Further legal regulation will be confusing and unhelpful leading to unnecessary practitioner anxiety.

It will disproportionately impact rural, remote and First Nations communities: If passed, the Bill will complicate the existing disparities faced by women and pregnant people in rural and remote areas – particularly First Nations women 鈥 restraining access to abortion services and adding an unnecessary emotional, physical, and economic stress on women and their families. Further, RANZCOG believes the Bill would reduce First Nations women鈥檚 ability to access abortion in ways that are culturally important for them, particularly relating to birth and death on Country.

Abortion is essential healthcare, and this Bill will create an unnecessary legislative barrier that will inappropriately increase regulation of abortion, limit service provision, and cause anxiety and emotional trauma for both patients and their healthcare providers as they confront difficult experiences. As such, this Bill should not be considered further.

鈥淭he Qld Termination of Pregnancy (Live Births) Amendment Bill is ill-advised, unnecessary, and if enacted, would lead to considerable stress for both practitioners and people needing these services. The bill has the potential to further reduce equitable access to abortion and it is vital that we don鈥檛 create additional obstacles to people鈥檚 reproductive rights,鈥 said Professor Kirsten Black, Chair of the RANZCOG Sexual Reproductive Health Committee. 

The Queensland Parliament鈥檚 Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee is required to report on its examination of the Bill by 20 September 2024. The College calls on the Committee to provide an opportunity for a RANZCOG nominee to give testimony at the scheduled public hearing on this Bill on Monday 10 June 2024 in Brisbane.


For media enquiries
Bec McPhee
Head of Advocacy & Communications
0413 258 166
bmcphee@ranzcog.edu.au

CATEGORIES
Advocacy Women’s health

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