|image from here.|
This week women's reproductive rights and the rights to their own bodies have been thrown back into the spotlight and for good reason. A US state has passed a bill that changes abortion from a medical procedure to a felony that will cost jail time.
What is this new law?
It was the act of a group of 25 white, male Republican state senators and one female State Governor- 26 people is all it took to turn the medical act of an abortion into a class A felony in the state of Alabama. It's referred to as a "heartbeat bill", meaning that once the faintest of heartbeats could be detected, at approximately six weeks it is illegal to have an abortion.
At six weeks pregnant many women are not even aware they are pregnant. The only signs of pregnancy are a missed period- if you have an irregular period that could be nothing out of the ordinary. You could have sore breasts, a bit of heartburn and maybe a bit of bloating and gas, all symptoms that many women push aside and don't consider to be anything to do with being pregnant. Some women don't even have any noticeable symptoms at six weeks- how are they supposed to know the legal time limit on choosing what you do with your own body is looming?
The Human Life Protection Act as it is known means that now, in Alabama a women who gets an abortion after this 6 week time limit could face a minimum of 10 years imprisonment. There is no exceptions for a victim of rape who has fallen pregnant as a result of her attack. There is no exception for incest. There is no order that the father has to provide assistance in any capacity. There is no mention of any government assistance. Basically the law says we're going to tell you what you can and can't o with your body, and if what we say puts you in a situation that you can't handle, well then.. that is just too bad isn't it.
As Patrick Shriver put it, in words that I couldn't put any kind of improvement on. "In Alabama, a man who rapes and gets a women pregnant will serve less time than the person that removes the embryo that was forcefully put in the victim."
Is this a new type of law for America?
Heartbeat bills, making abortion illegal have recently been passed in multiple states- Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi, North Dakota and Iowa.
In Arkansas and Utah it is still illegal to have an abortion, however the time limit is slightly more lax, time is up at 18 weeks pregnant.
Currently the states of Missouri and Louisiana the heartbeat bills are making their ways through legislature.
A little win lies in the fact that Texas, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia and South Carolina, these sites all failed to pass a similar heartbeat bill, these states had people who recognise that a women should be allowed to make their own decisions about their own body.
Australian Abortion laws aren't that bad.. are they?
I think in Australia we don't think about many laws until we are faced with them, I mean why would you really know about the abortion laws in Australia if you had never really had to come up against them? But now is the time to educate yourself on the abortion laws in Australia.
- New South Wales. In the state of NSW an abortion is still listed under the Crimes Act 1900, to be able to have the medical procedure in the state a doctor must deem that there is a risk to the mother, these risks can include social and economic factors.
- Australia Capital Territory. The year was 2002 and it was officially ruled that in the ACT abortion would no longer be referenced to as a criminal act. There are no gestational time limits on when you can and cannot have an abortion.
- Queensland. In October 2018 a vote of 50-41 passed the bills that allowed the legalisation of abortion up to the 22 weeks of pregnancy. If a women were to have an abortion after that 22nd week she would need to have the sign off of two doctors.
- South Australia. 28 weeks of pregnancy is the cut off for a legal abortion in SA, however to doctors must both agree that the mothers physical or mental health are being put at risk by the continuation of the pregnancy. There is also the exception if they believe that there will be a serous foetal abnormality. The rules also state that the abortion must take place in a hospital and the mother must have been a resident for at least 2 months.
- Western Australia. In 1998 the laws of WA were changed to be that of today. These days abortions are available on request up to 20 weeks of pregnancy, but you must be subject to counselling and be deemed to be making an informed choice. If the abortion is to be conducted after 20 weeks of pregnancy a panel of six doctors must here the case, two of which must agree to the abortion. If the mother is under the age of 16 further restrictions do apply.
- Northern Territory. Since March 2017 abortion laws in the NT have stated that an abortion is legal up until 14 weeks gestation if the doctor deems it to be appropriate. During the weeks of 14-23 weeks pregnant a women can access an abortion if two doctors are to agree.
- Victoria. Abortion is legal in Victoria for any reason up to twenty four weeks gestation. For an abortion to go ahead after that 24th week two doctors must agree.
- Tasmania. Legal and available upon request up to sixteen weeks of gestation. For the proceeder to take place after 16 weeks of pregnancy a doctor must deem there to be a risk to either the mother or the foetus, and a second doctor must also agree to that.
So no, the laws surrounding abortion are not as hard in Australia as they are in the US, but they could still do with some work.
I want to finish on this thought: making abortions illegal in any country will not put an end to abortions. It will put an end to any safe abortions. Women will be scared, they will be frustrated in their system. They will make desperate decisions. They will make decisions that could prove to be fatal for them.