After more than two weeks of fierce debate, lawmakers in New South Wales, Australia, voted on Thursday to decriminalize abortion, overturning a 119-year-old law banning the procedure.
The new Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 was debated for nearly 70 hours in both houses and went through several amendments before reaching final approval. South Australia is now the country’s only state with abortion restrictions remaining on the books.
“We are proud of the many members of the Parliament of New South Wales who were unwavering in their stand for life and posed amendment after amendment to contain this horrendous bill,” said Margaret Tighe, president of Right to Life Australia.
The bill allows abortions for any reason up to 22 weeks and up to birth with permission of two doctors and a hospital committee.
“There should be no cause for jubilation in New South Wales today when the death knell has been sounded in the New South Wales Parliament for unborn children in the womb—abortion now being allowed up till birth,” Tighe said.
In August, thousands of pro-life supporters gathered outside the NSW Parliament in Sydney to urge politicians to vote down the bill. Subsequent public rallies were organized in the weeks leading up to the historic vote, with prominent conservative voices leading the charge.
One such voice was former Prime Minister Tony Abbot. “[The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019] is a license for sex-selection abortions,” he said. “It is a license for late-term abortion. It is effectively infanticide on demand.”
The controversial bill has caused quite a stir, with some pro-life MPs reporting that they have been continually harassed, and have even received death threats.
Following the vote, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, said it was a “dark day” for the state and called it “a defeat for humanity.”
“The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 may be the worst law passed in New South Wales in modern times, because it represents such a dramatic abdication of responsibility to protect the most vulnerable members of our community,” Fisher posted on social media. “Since the abolition of capital punishment in New South Wales in 1955, this is the only deliberate killing ever legalized in our state.”
It was estimated that 65,000 abortions were performed in Australia in 2017. With abortion now legal in NSW, Australia’s largest state, that number is expected to rise significant.
Above: Thousands attend a Stand for Life rally in Hyde Park, Sydney, Australia, on September 15, 2019 to protest the Abortion Law Reform Act.