The US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that recognised abortion as a constitutional right, is a devastating blow to the lives of women in America and highlights the need for vigilance in Australia, the Human Rights Law Centre warned today.
Adrianne Walters, Associate Legal Director with the Human Rights Law Centre said:
“My heart goes out to the millions of women across the US who now face the prospect of losing the legal right to control what happens to their bodies. We can expect to see many Republican-controlled states implement inhumane abortion bans that will criminalise abortion.
“Abortion is healthcare. Access to abortion is a human right. No one should fear prosecution and imprisonment for needing healthcare, but sadly, millions of women around the world do. And now, millions more will in the US.
“What has happened in the US has not happened overnight. Bit-by-bit, year-by-year, anti-choice politicians and campaigners, lawyers and many others have sought to erode women’s reproductive rights.
“We have achieved important reforms in Australia in recent times. The situation in the US shows us that we must remain vigilant, as well as doing much more to ensure that every person can access abortion care regardless of their income, where they live or who they are.
“In recent years we’ve seen anti-choice politicians around Australia borrow from the US anti-abortion playbook to try to thwart important reforms in Queensland, NSW, South Australia and through the former Morrison Government’s flawed Religious Discrimination Bill.
“Most states in Australia have now reformed their laws to decriminalise abortion and ensure that abortion is treated as healthcare. South Australia’s reforms will finally commence in two weeks. However, Western Australia still lags behind. It is beyond time for the McGowan Government to act.
“It’s important to remember that the law is only part of the picture. Access to reproductive healthcare in Australia is tenuous for many. There is so much more that governments can do to properly fund and support reproductive healthcare around Australia, from increased public funding to nurse-led care. This would result in better health outcomes for everyone.”