Proposed abortion laws in the Northern Territory will give women less choice and may severely disadvantage women living in remote communities, warns the Australian Christian Lobby.
“It looks as though the abortion legislation has been developed by big-city academics from Melbourne and Sydney with little consideration for the limited backup health support available to isolated Territorian women,” ACL spokesperson for women Ms Francis said.
“What may appear modernising in the city, will simply remove current safeguards put in place to protect women’s health.
“Removing all abortion safeguards is not ‘modernising’ as has been enunciated by NT Health Minister Natasha Fyles.”
Leading feminist author and publisher, Renate Klein, maintains that RU486 abortions have the making of a new wave of DIY backyard abortions with days of agony: haemorrhaging, vomiting, cramping and the danger of sepsis.
Ms Francis said rather than provide safer options for young Territorian women, the government was flagging changes that were alarming and dangerous.
“The abortion process triggered by RU486 lasts a minimum of three days when all goes well, but women can bleed for up to six weeks,” she said.
Many women who have taken RU486 need a second abortion because the drugs fail to completely terminate their pregnancy and remaining parts of the unborn baby need to be removed to prevent an infection.
“A woman's life can be placed at risk if she haemorrhages excessively, needs a blood transfusion but is not near an emergency clinic,” Ms Francis said.
“In large cities, women who find themselves in an emergency as a result of taking the RU486 drug can find a hospital relatively quickly. This option is not available to many Territorians.”
The Human Rights Law Centre – themselves based in inner city Melbourne and Sydney – are arguing for abortions in the NT to be available at any stage of pregnancy.
Speaking on behalf of HRLC, Ms Walters reportedly argued that women should be able to get abortions at any stage of their pregnancy.
“With advances in technology community opinion has shifting against late term abortion. It is accepted that third trimester babies feel pain, react to their mother’s voice, and are clearly viable outside the womb.” Ms Francis said.
“The HRLC are even opposing the suggestion that women should receive counselling on their choices before accessing terminations.
“How can you be pro-choice and lobby for less information and help?
“Choice is not something that will be afforded doctors either, who under the proposed new laws, will be compelled to refer women for a termination if they themselves conscientiously object to performing the abortion.”
Concerned Territorians can write to NT Health Minister Fyles and their local member here.