NSW clears way for legal and late term abortions
The NSW Upper House has finally passed a bill to decriminalise abortion following a lengthy debate, but the Lower House is yet to approve the amendments.
The bill passed 26 votes to 14 on Wednesday night after MPs earlier in the day resolved to sit as long as it took for debate to finish.
It was debated for nearly 40 hours, making it the third longest debate in the NSW Upper House.
More than 100 amendments were discussed with the private member's bill to return to the Lower House on Thursday before it becomes law.
The bill, presented to Parliament in August by Independent MP Alex Greenwich, takes abortion out of the criminal code.
"With the passage of this bill abortion will be decriminalised in NSW - I am sorry that has taken us so long," Mr Greenwich said in a statement on Wednesday night.
The bill also allows terminations up to 22 weeks as well as later abortions if two doctors agree.
Upper House MPs on Wednesday night passed an amendment that recognised doctors performing abortions after 22 weeks can seek advice from a multi-disciplinary team of hospital advisory committee.
Labor MP Penny Sharpe, who is one of 15 co-sponsors of the bill, on Wednesday night said the vote was 119 years in the making.
The draft legislation has been opposed by religious groups, anti-abortion activists and several MPs who raised concerns about late-term and sex-selective abortions, conscientious objection and the way the bill was introduced.
Tensions reached a climax last week when Liberal MPs Tanya Davies, Mathew Mason-Cox and Lou Amato said they would move a leadership spill motion against Premier Gladys Berejiklian over her handling of the bill.
The rebel MPs, who ultimately withdrew the motion, said it had been made clear to the premier that "at an absolute minimum" four key amendments were required to the bill to ensure continued Liberal Party membership.
The amendments included a ban on sex-selective abortions and stricter regulation of late-term abortions.
Amendments passed in the Upper House include one clarifying that doctors must provide appropriate care to babies born alive after a termination.
Another states the NSW Parliament opposes sex-selective abortions, and a future report on the issue is to include prevention recommendations.
The Lower House is expected to deal with the bill as the first item of business on Thursday.