The Victorian Government has introduced a Bill to State Parliament to decriminalise abortion.
The Bill allows unrestricted abortions in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, but termination would have to be approved by two doctors after 24 weeks.
Currently, abortions are illegal unless a woman can show she is at risk of harm by continuing with a pregnancy.
Essentially, this is Option B from the Victorian Law Reform Commission report on the decriminalization of abortion. Most pro-choice advocates were advocating for Option C, which would have removed abortion from the scope of the criminal law entirely.
One thing that’s not absolutely clear to me at this point is whether there is any change from the current situation for pregnancies over 24 weeks. This Age article seems to indicate that after 24 weeks, the standard of the Menhennitt ruling would be enshrined in law.
While I would personally have preferred option C, the proposed legislation -assuming that the rules for late-term abortions do essentially codify Menhennitt – seems like a definite improvement over the status quo.
Of course, given this is a conscience vote, there is the opportunity to lobby your local MP.