Dr Leslie Cannold, author, medical ethicist and the President of Reproductive Choice Australia and Pro-
Choice Victoria, grass-roots community groups that have played key roles in reforming Australian laws
In Australia, abortion is regulated by the states, most of which maintain abortion in the criminal code. In 2008, after a brutal political battle within and outside the Parliament, the Government’s Abortion Law Bill 2008 was passed into law without amendment. The new law removes abortion from the Crimes Act. Up to 24 weeks gestation, it is now regulated like all other medical procedures. After 24 weeks, doctors maintain control of the decision, two of whom must judge it as “appropriate in all the circumstances.” Subsequent efforts to reform laws similar to Victoria’s in NSW and Queensland, where a young woman is currently being prosecuted for the crime of procuring her own abortion, have so far been unsuccessful. Based on my involvement in successful law reform efforts nationally (in removing restrictions to the i mportation of RU486) and in Victoria, NSW and Queensland (in attempts to reform state abortion laws), I will identify factors vital to successful law reform efforts.