Women celebrate the result of yesterday's referendum on liberalizing abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland, May 26, 2018.
Women celebrate the result of yesterday's referendum on liberalizing abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland, May 26, 2018. Reuters/Max Rossi

Abortion is now legal in Queensland. On Wednesday, MPs shed tears while debating laws to decriminalise abortion in the state, but eventually passing the bill 50 to 41 votes.

With the bill’s passing, abortion will be removed from the criminal code and will rather be made a health issue. Women may now terminate their pregnancies up to 22 weeks of gestation. After 22 weeks, terminations will be allowed only with the approval of two independent doctors.

There will also be safe zones around clinics and medical facilities that offer abortion. This will prevent anti-abortion activists from harassing staff members and patients.

Both Liberal National and Labor have allowed their MPs a conscience vote on the bill. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Parliament had been offered a chance to make history with the passing of the bill, which had been debated for two days.

“Because I believe, and I have always believed, a woman should be able to talk to her doctor about her own health and her own body without it being a crime,” she said.

Former Opposition leader Tim Nicholls and LNP member of Chatsworth Steve Minnikin both voted for the law change, with Nicholls saying the 1899 criminal legislation was intended to treat women as “unfit to make their own decisions.”

“The current law is a bad law,” Nicholls said.

Minnikin said that if he had a daughter, he would want her to have the same chances in life as his two sons. “I am not pro-abortion. I am pro-choice, pro-autonomy, pro-respect,” he said. “No one should be able to endure a pregnancy they do not want when there are safe, medical options available.”

Some MPs took their vote personal, though. Labor backbencher Melissa McMahon said she wouldn’t have been alive if her mother who got pregnant in her teens had aborted her. However, she said she would support the legislation as she believed every woman must have autonomy over their own bodies.

“The reality is not all pregnancies have happy endings,” McMahon, who also shared her personal experience of miscarriage, said. “With each successive pregnancy, and with each successive pregnancy loss, darkness and foreboding sets in and optimism goes out the window.”

On the other hand, Sunshine Coast MP Jarrod Bleijie equated abortion to murder. “Killing a baby in 1918 is no different to killing a baby in 2018,” he told the Parliament. “If you don’t want to have a baby, there are options available for not getting pregnant.”

Liberal MP Ted Sorenson broke down in tears on Tuesday when speaking about his vote. He shared his story of how he was adopted, calling the bill the “killing Ted bill.”

“I just feel like that this bill should be called ‘killing Ted bill’ today because that’s the way I feel. Every baby has a right to live, whether it’s 20 weeks, whether it’s 22 weeks, there’s a real baby there. I was one of them,” he said.