Debate has begun in South Australia’s Lower House on proposed reforms to abortion laws, after legislation passed through the Upper House last year.

Key points:

  • The Termination of Pregnancy Bill would see abortion taken out of the criminal code and into healthcare legislation
  • Attorney-General Vickie Chapman says it would bring SA in line with other states
  • A clause that allows for abortions from 23 weeks has sparked controversy

The Termination of Pregnancy Bill aims to shift abortion out of the criminal code and into healthcare legislation.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman told Parliament the bill would bring South Australia in line with other states, where abortion has been decriminalised.

“The fundamental premise of the bill is that Members of Parliament are being asked to trust women and to trust their medical team when it comes to the issue of late-term abortion,” Ms Chapman said.

“This is not a controversial position when we trust doctors with every other decision we make in our life.”

Under the proposal, late-term abortions — defined as after 22 weeks and six days — would be lawful if two doctors deemed the procedure to be “medically appropriate”.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman spoke in favour of the bill.(ABC News)

In her speech, Ms Chapman said she “fundamentally” rejected the argument the bill makes it easier to obtain a late-term abortion up until birth, describing such a claim as “a nonsense”.

“There is no such thing as abortion to birth because it is never medically appropriate to terminate a healthy baby at term for no reason whatsoever,” she said.

Labor spokeswoman Katrine Hildyard also spoke in support of the bill, encouraging fellow MPs to support the reforms.

Community divided on late-term clause

During debate, Deputy Labor Leader Susan Close, agreed it was a complex issue.

But she said she would support the bill, “as difficult as it is for every single one of us, and particularly for those who care so very deeply about the next generations, and who have had the joy of having children that they love”.

Dr Close said women should not have to “navigate through overly complex legislative mazes”.

Liberal MP Adrian Pederick has indicated he will vote against the bill, saying he supports “the current legislation in regards to abortion law in this state”.

“The Termination of Pregnancy Bill would permit abortion, for any reason, up to 22 weeks and six days gestation, and beyond that right up to birth if two doctors agree it is appropriate,” he said.

“I strongly oppose up-to-full-term abortion.”

His Liberal colleague Stephan Knoll said the current legislation “does not reflect contemporary practice, but also does undue harm to women in the process”.

However, he said there would need to be discussion around “what is appropriate in terms of late-term abortion”.

The proposed bill has prompted rallies across Adelaide in recent weeks, with thousands marching for and against the reforms.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks to oppose or support the changes.(ABC News: Candice Prosser)

An estimated 4,000 protestors took to the streets for the Walk for Life march 10 days ago to express opposition of the bill.

One protestor, Carly Murphy, said she was most concerned about the late termination clause, describing it as “not OK”.

“I don’t think we have the right to take that away.”

Laws that prevent protestors from gathering within 150 metres of abortion clinics passed Parliament last September.

The reforms currently being debated in the Lower House will go to a conscience vote.