BATHURST, Dubbo and Orange MPs have voted in favour of decriminalising abortion during a passionate debate in the lower house on Thursday night.
The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 was passed following three days of debate and several amendments and it will now face further hurdles as it goes to the upper house for consideration.
MPs in the lower house voted in favour of the bill 59 to 31, with many cheering and clapping after the bill was passed.
For the past 119 years, abortion has been part of the Crimes Act 1900, but this private member's bill seeks to change all of that.
The bill was brought to parliament by Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich who spoke passionately in parliament on Thursday night about why it should be passed.
"Women have the capacity to make decisions about their own bodies without interference and to decide for themselves whether to seek counselling prior to an abortion," he said.
I feel that tonight our Parliament truly has an opportunity to come together to make an historic decision to finally ensure the decriminalisation of abortion in New South Wales.Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich
"As I said in my reply to the second reading debate, I truly feel that members have approached this debate with compassion in their hearts rather than judgement in their minds.
"I feel that tonight our Parliament truly has an opportunity to come together to make an historic decision to finally ensure the decriminalisation of abortion in New South Wales."
Health Minister Brad Hazzard was one of 15 co-sponsors of the bill as was Greens MP Jenny Leong who said she was outraged the bill had taken so long and offended that so many men believed "that they have the right to make laws that dictate what we do with our bodies".
"The sound of men arguing over our personal reproductive health choices hurts my ears and it offends my very core," she said on Tuesday.
But several MPs raised concerns over late-term abortions and a provision relating to conscientious objection by medical practitioners, as well as the amount of time given to consult on the bill.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who spoke "on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves", said supporters of the bill were on the wrong side of history.
I believe the purpose of this parliament is not to be a platform for the privileged but a voice for the voiceless vulnerable who cannot speak up for themselves. On this issue the supporters of this bill are ignoring that obligation," he said on Tuesday night.
Police Minister David Elliott said the bill wasn't an election issue and the timing had been "completely mismanaged".
"I think this legislation has been ill-timed, has been ill-thought-out and I do believe that if we're going to get this legislation done properly, it needs to be done with lot more public debate and input," he said.
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