ASHM Report Back
Clinical posts from members and guests of the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM) from various international medical and scientific conferences on HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis, and sexual health.
Support for decriminalisation of Abortion Among Respondents of a Community Survey of Knowledge and Views on Abortion Law in NSW
I attended this great talk given by Kevin McGeechan on Wednesday 8/11.
Kevin McGeechan is a senior lecturer in Biostatistics at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney and acts as a consultant statistician for Family Planning NSW.
The topic of abortion law in NSW was presented and discussed in further detail the following day at the symposium addressing "Abortion:2017 and Beyond" with several other excellent presentations on the topic.
A bit of background to start:
Abortion remains a crime in the NSW Crimes Act 1900, punishable by up to 10 years jail. However, as a result of case law, abortion can be provided legally, but only to protect the life or health of the woman. Abortion law reforms have taken place in all other Australian jurisdictions except NSW and Queensland. This leaves women in these states vulnerable to prosecution.
In September 2015 , The Greens NSW commissioned a community survey to inform development of an abortion law reform bill.
This bill was introduced to the NSW Parliament in May 2017 and was debated but defeated.
The survey was conducted anonymously online by a market research company.
1015 male and female adult residents of NSW participated
Of these, 76% were unaware that abortion is a crime in NSW.
73% thought it should be decriminalised and regulated as a healthcare service.
These results were consistent across gender, age groups, metropolitan/regional and rural areas as well as all levels of education.
There was also strong support for women seeking abortion to be protected from harassment (89%) and for protest exclusion zones around abortion clinics (81%)
Support for decriminalisation and protection of women seeking an abortion was higher amount regional/rural residents than Sydney based respondents.
I found it interesting to learn about the differences across Australian jurisdictions regarding abortion law. In addition, it is surprising how many people are unaware of the law pertaining to this in NSW. I think as a medical practitioner it is important to be aware of these issues and what barriers this may pose to women wanting to access abortion services in NSW or Queensland.