blog

Submission to the Queensland Law Reform Commission Review of Termination of Pregnancy Laws

February 2018

In keeping with the suggestions of groups resembling the Queensland Department of the Australian Medical Affiliation (AMAQ), Royal Australian and New Zealand School of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG), the Queensland Nurses Union, the Well being Shoppers Queensland submission, and Youngsters by Selection submission to the Law Reform Commission Review, the Atheist Foundation of Australia helps and proposes the following answers to the questions offered by the QLRC Review of Termination of Pregnancy Laws 2018.

Who must be permitted to carry out or help in performing terminations.

Q-1 Who ought to be permitted to perform, or help in performing, lawful terminations of pregnancy?

Due to the want for protected health practices and medical expertise to legally perform or assist in terminations of pregnancy, registered health and medical practitioners with applicable qualifications and coaching ought to be obligatory in these instances.

In recognition of technological developments and modifications in the improvement of medicine abortion, it ought to be acknowledged that mid-level suppliers of treatment abortion (by way of well being practitioners resembling pharmacists and nurse practitioners) do exist in overseas practices. Such developments in healthcare, with treatment provided by medically educated and authorized options, must be thought-about by the fee (1).

That is notably related contemplating the geographic isolation and limited entry to suppliers that some ladies might face in the state of Queensland.

Q-2 Ought to a lady be criminally liable for the termination of her own pregnancy?

No.

Beneath no circumstance ought to a lady be criminally charged for a termination they consented to. The state of Queensland ought to moreover help similar nationwide legislative consistency in that regard.

Gestational limits and grounds

Q-Three Should there be a gestational limit or limits for a lawful termination of
being pregnant?

The Atheist Foundation of Australia is just not a medical authority physique or governing group, and we propose that adhering to the suggestions of teams akin to the Queensland Department of the Australian Medical Association (AMAQ), Royal Australian and New Zealand School of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG), the Queensland Nurses Union, the Well being Shoppers Queensland submission, and the Youngsters by Selection submissions to the Law Reform Commission Review as solutions to Questions 3 and 4.

If a model is required, Queensland might contemplate adopting the instance of the state of Victoria, where legislation stipulates that entry to termination providers are unrestricted up to 24 weeks, and after that time, a lady decides with info and help from two docs (2).

Q-4 If sure to Q-Three, what should the gestational limit or limits be? For instance:
(a) an early gestational limit, associated to the first trimester of pregnancy;
(b) a later gestational limit, associated to viability;
(c) one other gestational limit or limits.

See answer to Question Three.

Q-5 Should there be a selected floor or grounds for a lawful termination of being pregnant?

We agree with Youngsters by Selection’s submission that:

If a staged gestational strategy to regulation reform is legislated then knowledgeable consent must be the only basis for grounds for a lawful termination of pregnancy prior to 24 weeks.

Q-6 If sure to Q-5, what should the specific floor or grounds be?
For example: (a) a single ground to the effect that termination is acceptable in all the circumstances, having regard to: (i) all relevant medical circumstances; (ii) the lady’s current and future bodily, psychological and social circumstances; and (iii) professional standards and tips; (b) one or more of the following grounds: (i) that it is needed to preserve the life or the bodily or mental well being of the lady; (ii) that it’s essential or applicable having regard to the lady’s social or economic circumstances; (iii) that the being pregnant is the end result of rape or another coerced or illegal act; vi Review of termination of pregnancy laws (iv) that there’s a danger of critical or fatal fetal abnormality?

With reference to answers beforehand given for Questions 3-5; should a staged gestational strategy to regulation reform be pursued, this must be the grounds to be met for a termination after 24 weeks. No grounds ought to apply for terminations sought prior to this gestation aside from the pregnant individual’s informed consent.

Q-7 If yes to Q-5, should a unique ground or grounds apply at totally different levels of pregnancy?

In addition to informed consent, the only suggestion we propose relating to termination of being pregnant after 24 weeks gestation is the help of RANZCOG’s assertion that “no specific clinical circumstance should qualify or not qualify a woman for termination’ as the ‘impact of any particular condition is highly individual and often complex” (3).

The medical, social, physical and psychological requirements can differ tremendously from lady to lady, and professional standards and tips ought to recognise that.

Consultation by the medical practitioner

Q-8 Ought to a medical practitioner be required to consult with one or more others (resembling one other medical practitioner or well being practitioner), or refer to a committee, earlier than performing a termination of pregnancy?

Should a staged gestational strategy to regulation reform be pursued, laws might require session with one other medical practitioner after 24 weeks. as per current medical follow in Queensland, beneath the Queensland Maternity and Neonatal Medical Guideline on Therapeutic Termination of Pregnancy (Four).

In different circumstances, there must be no want for consultation and the choice ought to be between the lady concerned and her well being practitioner/s. No grounds ought to apply for terminations sought prior to this gestation aside from the pregnant individual’s informed consent.

If yes to Q-8: Q-9 What should the requirement be? For example: (a) consultation by the medical practitioner who’s to perform the termination with: (i) one other medical practitioner; or (ii) a specialist obstetrician or gynaecologist; or (iii) a well being practitioner whose specialty is related to the circumstances of the case; or (b) referral to a multi-disciplinary committee?

See answer to Question Eight.

Q-10 When ought to the requirement apply? For instance: (a) for all terminations, besides in an emergency; (b) for terminations to be carried out after a relevant gestational restrict or on particular grounds?

See answer to Question 8.

Conscientious objection

Q-11 Should there be provision for conscientious objection?

We help the advice the Australian Medical Affiliation offers to its members on conscientious objection (6). Whereas we understand that some medical suppliers consider they should be exempt from offering termination providers due to reasons of conscience based mostly on spiritual, moral or moral grounds (5), all providers must be legally obligated to refer a pregnant individual to another practitioner who does not maintain a conscientious objection, in a timely manner, without discrimination or delay.

As the Atheist Basis of Australia helps secularism in Australia, we subsequently respect that there may be practitioners who wish to be legally in a position to rigorously object to involvement in terminations of being pregnant, however this should not apply in instances of life threatening emergencies, or to forestall remedy of critical bodily damage. We reiterate that they are liable for referring a lady or pregnant individual to an applicable, named service provider and affected person travel subsidy providers if required, it doesn’t matter what their personal beliefs could also be, as we don’t consider that there is an equitable state of affairs for all ladies in Queensland (notably in rural and distant areas) to have the opportunity to entry similar providers.

Conscientious objection should not be relevant to administrative employees, providers, amenities, organisations, or corporate entities.

Q-12 If sure to Q-11: (a) Are there any circumstances through which the provision shouldn’t apply, akin to an emergency or the absence of another practitioner or termination of pregnancy service inside an inexpensive geographic proximity? (b) Should a health practitioner who has a conscientious objection be obliged to refer or direct a lady to another practitioner or termination of pregnancy service?

See answer to Question 11.

Counselling

Q-13 Ought to there be any necessities in relation to offering counselling for the lady?

There ought to be no requirement for counselling, however the availability of pre- and post-abortion counselling by unbiased providers ought to be out there for many who wish to have the choice of looking for further help. Research by Marie Stopes indicates that it isn’t vital for all ladies (7) and The Victorian Law Reform Commission has previously examined the difficulty of obligatory counselling of their inquiry into the state’s abortion legal guidelines in 2007, relating to ineffective and pointless nature of mandated counselling (Eight).

Consequently, we help that the choices for ladies who feel that they could want the providers ought to be out there, however must not be obligatory. We additionally strongly help full disclosure of any counselling providers if they’re run on an anti-abortion foundation, and all counselling providers must be topic to the commerce practices laws that regulates misinformation and false advertising in that regard (9).

Safety of ladies and service providers and protected entry zones

Q-14 Should it’s unlawful to harass, intimidate or impede: (a) a lady who is considering, or who has undergone, a termination of being pregnant; or (b) a person who performs or assists, or who has carried out or assisted in performing, a lawful termination of pregnancy?

Yes.

The Atheist Foundation of Australia strongly rejects the proper of groups (spiritual or otherwise) to protest or hold vigils outdoors premises the place termination of being pregnant providers are offered, and/or interact in the harassment, intimidation and obstruction of those that seek these providers and the employees involved, due to the danger of violence and hurt that would ensue in consequence of such activities (10).

Q-15 Ought to there be provision for protected access zones in the area round premises the place termination of being pregnant providers are offered?

Yes.

We are strongly supportive of the precept of protected access zones and agree with the assertion by Victorian Well being Minister Jill Hennessy that they are vital “in order to prevent the harm and not just to respond to inappropriate conduct when it occurs” (11).

We additionally do not consider that protected access zones are an infringement to freedom of political communication, some extent which has been previously raised by Human Rights Law Centre (12).

If yes to Q-15: Q-16 Should the provision: (a) mechanically set up an space around the premises as a protected entry zone? In that case, what should the area be; or (b) empower the responsible Minister to make a declaration establishing the area of each protected access zone? In that case, what standards ought to the Minister be required to apply when making the declaration?

Victoria, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory have a legislated 150m protected entry zone, which mechanically applies round termination provider premises, and this must be thought-about as a regular nationwide for all occasions of the day, as well as for Queensland. This also needs to embrace penalties for harassment or intimidation and recording/publishing pictures of any individual getting into or leaving an abortion facility, due to the sensitive nature of consultation/s (13).

Q-17 What behaviours must be prohibited in a protected entry zone?

See answer to Query 16.

Q-18 Ought to the prohibition on behaviours in a protected entry zone apply only throughout a specific time interval?

See reply to Query 16.

Q-19 Ought to it’s an offence to make or publish a recording of another individual getting into or leaving, or making an attempt to enter or depart, premises the place termination of being pregnant providers are performed, until the recorded individual has given their consent?

See answer to Question 16.

Collection of knowledge about terminations of pregnancy

Q-20 Ought to there be obligatory reporting of anonymised knowledge about terminations of being pregnant in Queensland?

We agree that timely and accurate assortment of knowledge of all well being service provision in Queensland is significant to give you the option to plan, design, deliver, monitor and consider health providers. We absolutely help the need for health providers and medical suppliers to help equitable, efficient and wide-ranging help for public well being, and knowledge assortment is a vital half of that course of.

REFERENCES:

(1) Berer, M. (2009). “Provision of abortion by mid-level providers: international policy, practice and perspectives” Reproductive Health Matters 2008, cited in Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2009; 87:58- 63. Obtainable on-line at:
http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/87/1/07-050138/en/

(2) Your Well being: Abortion, Household Planning Victoria. Out there online at:
https://www.fpv.org.au/for-you/abortion

(3) Royal Australian and New Zealand School of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, ‘Termination of Pregnancy’ (C-Gyn 17, July 2016), cited in Review into termination of pregnancy legal guidelines: Session Paper Queensland Law Reform Commission. December 2017; WP No 76; 48. Obtainable online at:
http://www.qlrc.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/547165/qlrc-wp-no-76-2017.pdf

(Four) Review into termination of pregnancy legal guidelines: Consultation Paper Queensland Law Reform Commission. December 2017; WP No 76; 55. Out there on-line at:
http://www.qlrc.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/547165/qlrc-wp-no-76-2017.pdf

(5) Correspondence from Greenslopes Obstetrics and Gynaecology, submission dated 10th June 2016. Obtainable online at:
https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/HCDSDFVPC/2016/AbortionLR-WRC-AB2016/submissions/014.pdf

(6) Conscientious Objection Coverage Assertion, Australian Medical Association, 2013. Out there online at:
https://ama.com.au/position-statement/conscientious-objection-2013

(7) What ladies want when confronted with an unplanned being pregnant Analysis by WebSurvey, commissioned by Marie Stopes Worldwide Australia. November 2006. Out there online at:
http://www.mariestopes.org.au/data-and-research/what-women-want-when-faced-with-unplanned-pregnancy/

(Eight) Law of Abortion: Ultimate Report, Victorian Law Reform Commission, March 2008, pp125-126. Obtainable online at:
http://www.lawreform.vic.gov.au/all-projects/abortion

(9) Clear advertising and notification of pregnancy counselling providers Invoice 2005: overview of the Inquiry by the Senate Group Affairs Laws Committee is out there on the federal parliament web site. Out there on-line at:
http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2004-07/pregnancy_counselling/report/c01

(10) Stack, Liam. (2015). A Temporary Historical past of Lethal Assaults on Abortion Providers. New York Occasions. Out there online at:
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/29/us/30abortion-clinic-violence.html

(11) J. Hennessy (Minister for Well being) (2015), ‘Statement of compatibility: Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015’, Debates, Victoria, Legislative Assembly, 22 October, pp. 3973–3974.

(12) Human Rights Law Centre submission to the Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016. Obtainable online at:
https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/HCDSDFVPC/2016/18-HealthAbortion/submissions/894.pdf

(13) Davey, M. (2014). “Albury’s only abortion clinic: protests ‘push women to point of self-harm’” The Guardian. Out there on-line at:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/09/women-seeking-abortions-harassedby-protesters-to-point-of-suicide