Western Australia Decriminalises Abortion, Simplifies Procedure Access in Landmark Legislation Update

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Abortion has been decriminalised in Western Australia courtesy of the newly enacted updates to the laws pertaining to pregnancy termination. Having successfully passed through WA parliament on Wednesday night, the rejuvenated abortion reforms effectively render a 25-year-old legislation obsolete.

The alterations present a plethora of changes, the most significant of which includes the removal of abortion-associated issues from the state’s criminal code. As a direct consequence, women who require termination services no longer require a referral from a doctor, paving the way for a simplified procedure with one less physician involved.

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Further amendments entail the eradication of compulsory counselling, as well as the need for endorsements from a minister or an appointed panel for late-term abortions. Premier Roger Cook lauded these modifications as eliminating unnecessary clinical obstructions, categorising them as an integral and welcome stride towards socially progressive legislation.

Accordingly, the span of gestation permitted for late-term abortions has been extended from 20 weeks to 23 weeks. This adjustment, according to Upper House leader Sue Ellery, provides much-required solace to women whose fetuses showcase abnormalities, the majority of which are detected only between weeks 18 and 22. She elaborated that for countless women, the relative time frame necessitating them to make the agonizing decision of a late-term termination is an excruciating ordeal.

These changes accommodate an easier access to abortion services within Western Australia, which would prevent many women from the financial and emotional burden of travelling interstate for obtaining these services.

Meanwhile, the revisions in legislation also navigate the issue of conscience by authorising medical practitioners to deny treatment on grounds of conscientious objection. But, in keeping with ethical medical norms, they must either refer the patient to a different service provider or furnish them with information to seek alternate treatment.

Despite the decriminalization of abortion, the law still maintains its firm stand on the illegality of unqualified individuals offering termination services. This overhauled regulatory framework places Western Australia in congruence with the legislative norms governing abortion in most other states and territories.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.