Late abortion a medical issue

RELATED: Rally for abortion bill

THE Infant Viability Bill is set to be debated in the Victorian Legislative Council on Wednesday.

The bill proposes to make abortions beyond 24 weeks in Victoria illegal and penalise physicians who perform them.

Under current Victorian laws, abortions performed after 24 weeks require the approval of two doctors and evaluation of the woman’s current and future medical, physical, psychological and social conditions.

The late term procedures are performed at only one hospital in Victoria.

A Gippsland Women’s Health spokesperson said if the bill was passed, it would remove women’s rights to choose what happened to their bodies.

“The big concern here is that it does take away women’s rights and it also takes away doctors’ rights in how they chose to deliver care,” the spokesperson said.

“It does make it a criminal issue, not a health issue, and we are talking about a health issue.”

The spokesperson said the decision for a woman to have an abortion was a very difficult one.

She said based on available statistics, only 0.5 to one per cent of all abortions performed in Australia took place beyond 20 weeks.

“That’s what we need to be clear about, most of the post 24 week terminations are for serious health issues and often the woman’s life is in danger,” she said. “We need to keep it in focus.

“We’re not talking about a wide-spread issue where there are thousands and thousands of women choosing to abort their babies.

“There are usually very real and serious reasons why you would have a late term abortion.”

The spokesperson said there were a range of factors, including rape and sexual assault, incest, domestic violence, terminal illnesses, severe mental health issues and severe genetic abnormalities, which affected a woman’s ability to carry a baby to full term.

The spokesperson said each case was unique and all women deserved to have access to appropriate healthcare.

Australian Medical Association Victoria does not support the bill, saying an abortion is a medical procedure, not a crime.

The Infant Viability Bill was introduced last year by Western Metropolitan Democratic Labor Party MLC Rachel Carling-Jenkins.

A rally was held in Sale recently by those in support of the bill, including Gippsland’s Action for Life lobby group, with an article reporting their views appearing in last Tuesday’s Gippsland Times.

A large rally supporting the bill was also held on the steps of parliament on Saturday.