Criminalization of Abortion: A Solution?
In the last two decades, abortion has raised contentious concerns about the health of a mother, the morality of the action, and rights of the fetus. Despite abortion having been practised for thousands of years, the subject up to date ensues very polarized views among women, the medical profession and the society at large. Societal and legislative perceptions and attitudes towards abortion vary extremely across continents and among nations primarily due to cultural and legal differences. This raises significant debates on the morality and legality of abortions creating antagonistic views. For instance, Australia is under a federal system of governance, abortion has varied interpretations and views across the states where the process is primarily defined under criminal law. Liberalization and advocacy for abortion reform commenced in the 1970s not with the intent of declassifying it as a crime but through the legislative and liberal court rulings reforms to allow its practice within legal limits. From the 1970s, the Australian society and medical professionals’ views on abortion have been pro-choice as well as anti-abortion. Due to this attribute abortion has been increasingly stigmatized and marginalized the reproductive experience of women and health service. The legality, access and moral justification for abortion vary across Australia primarily on medical and surgical abortion. In Australia Capital Territory (ACT) abortion is legal and controlled as a health service with surgical abortion permitted up to 15 weeks of pregnancy; in New South Wales, abortion is illegal but with exceptions where a mother’s health and life is in dire danger but only allowed up to 18-20 weeks of pregnancy. In Western Australia, abortion is allowed not exceeding twenty weeks pregnancy, fourteen weeks in Northern Territory, maximum of twenty weeks in South Australia, sixteen weeks in Tasmania, and seventeen weeks in Victoria. In all cases, abortion is only allowed in cases where the doctor is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that the life of the mother is in danger, failure to do so abortion attracts legal ramification as outlined by the criminal codes and laws of respective states and territory. This paper shall focus on ethical and legal issues regarding the criminalization of induced abortion in Australia.
Copyright (c) 2019 Francis Kilo, Jone Wallance
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