Anti-abortion activists and supporters gathered outside Parliament House in Sydney today to publicly protest the decriminalisation of abortion in New South Wales.
The legislation was introduced in parliament today by independent Sydney MP, Alex Greenwich.
Protesters held up signs reading ‘Human Dignity Begins at Conception,’ ‘Abortion Mentally Cripples Women,’ ‘Abortion: One heart stops and another one breaks,’ and ‘My heart started beating at 21 days’.
The activists chanted along to the words ‘we love women, babies too, we’re pro-life, how about you’ and ‘life from conception, no exception’ in between a series of speeches from guest speakers such as Labor MP Greg Donnelly and the Reverend Fred Nile.
The Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 aims to decriminalise abortion, which is still an offence under in the Crimes Act 1900, and includes plans for a further healthcare act that will regulate termination procedures.
The bill was met with support from various MPs across different parties, who will co-sponsor the bill.
It is expected that NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, will also be supporting the bill, much to the dismay of the attending protestors.
The protest was hosted by Right to Life NSW, Australian Christian Lobby, Family Voice Australia, Family Life International, We Support Women and the Australian Family Coalition, and drew a crowd of scores of passionate protestors.
One protester, who gave her name only as Hannah, claimed that under the new laws “it would be legal to terminate a very healthy pregnancy just on the basis of sex, and I think that’s really wrong.”
In fact, there is no mention of the sex of unborn children in the proposed bill.
“Women can already access abortion in the first trimester… I don’t see why we need to extend it up to birth,” added Hannah.
Under the Crimes Act 1900, a woman seeking an abortion can be prosecuted under the law, as well as anyone who performs the termination or supplies drugs to end the pregnancy.
Currently, a doctor must decide whether the continuation of the pregnancy would be detrimental to the woman’s mental or physical health in order for a termination to be allowed.
Another protester, Phillippa Bruce from the Blue Mountains, claimed that “40% of abortions after 22 weeks are for psycho-social reasons, so we’re talking about an element of choice, not a medical emergency which is one reason often people claim” (a statistic reported by pro-life group Cherish Life Queensland).
Another protestor, 15-year-old Noah, said he had come out to “fight for a child’s rights”.
“I’m against abortion completely, because I believe that life begins at conception. If you end it, that’s killing someone. You don’t have the right to kill anybody.”
“You have women coming in saying ‘you don’t have the right to say this, this is my body, etcetera’, and I’m a strong advocate for women’s rights … I believe we should all have equal rights. But I believe the child’s right to life trumps the woman’s choice to kill it.”
Anita Green, a 53-year-old mother of 10, also attended to protest with three of her children.
When asked why she came out today, she said she believed in “standing for life”.
“This bill that’s been put forward is just death, and a whole lot of girls will probably end up having abortions that will really regret it so much later on,” said Ms Green.
“I’m not comfortable with any abortion,” she added.
“All of them are devastating to the baby, and to the mother – even if they don’t recognise it at the time.
“For our nation, our children, the next generation, it’s devastation all the way.”
The bill has quite widespread support, despite today’s public display of opposition.
The debating of the bill has been pushed back to next Tuesday, as more conservative MPs take the time to consider it.