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  • New safe zone laws to be enforced for abortion clinics

    Author: AAP

The Queensland Nurses Union says their members will feel safer and are less likely to be harassed under new safe zone laws for abortion clinics.

Safe zones to be enforced around premises where abortions are performed are long overdue following recent "disturbing" incidents, the Queensland Nurses Union says.

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Abortion will be decriminalised in Queensland under new laws to be introduced to state parliament in August.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday released the Queensland Law Reform Commission's (QLRC) review of the state's abortion laws and announced cabinet had accepted all its recommendations

Union secretary Beth Mohle says the 150m safe zones, which also outlawed people being filmed while entering or leaving a premises, are needed to protect staff, patients and their family and friends.

"There have been very disturbing occurrences in recent times where women who have been seeking termination of pregnancies have been harassed outside of clinics and also staff who work at those clinics," Ms Mohle said.

Under the new laws, women would be able to ask to terminate pregnancies up to 22 weeks.

The QLRC found abortions should be treated as a health issue and not a criminal matter but it suggested making it an offence to perform or assist in abortions without qualifications.

The bill is expected to be debated and passed before the end of the year.

Doctors and medical professionals may refuse to perform abortions but must refer patients to someone who will.

The Australian Medical Association's Queensland branch and the Human Rights Law Centre have welcomed the announcement.

"The values of 1899 should not limit a woman's right to access the healthcare they need in 2018," law centre's senior lawyer Adrianne Walters said.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has conditionally agreed to allow her MPs a conscience vote on the bill.

Former independent MP Rob Pyne introduced two private member's bills in 2017 but withdrew them when it became clear neither would pass.

Abortions are legal in Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT, and legal for some medical reasons in South Australia.

They are a criminal offence in NSW and Queensland unless, for example, a woman's life is at risk.


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