The local parliament in New South Wales (NSW), Australia’s most populous state, has passed laws decriminalizing abortion, becoming the last jurisdiction in the country to do so.
The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 passed the state’s lower house by 26 votes to 14 on Wednesday after dozens of proposed amendments prompted emotional marathon debates, heated clashes and weeks of protests.
“Abortion has been decriminalized in NSW.
“Sorry, it took so long,’’ Alex Greenwich, an independent lawmaker from Sydney, who had proposed the bill in August, wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
The bill takes abortion out of the state’s criminal code, some 119 years after it was included in the law.
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It allows terminations at up to 22 weeks, and even later if two doctors agree.
Previously, New South Wales had allowed abortions if doctors believed continuing pregnancy was a risk to the person’s physical or mental health.
“With the passing of this bill, our parliament affirms that we trust women.
“We trust women to make decisions about their own lives and about their own bodies,’’ Jo Haylen, a Labour lawmaker and co-sponsor of the bill, said just before the final vote in the Sydney parliament.
The bill passed the upper house on Wednesday night after 40 hours of non-stop debate – the third-longest in the NSW state legislature.
Religious groups and several state and federal politicians opposed the legislation and led fiery protests, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who called the proposal “infanticide on demand”.
The bill’s critics had raised concerns about late-term abortions, as well as sex-selective abortions.
The conservative state of Queensland decriminalized abortion last year.