ABORTION ACCESS EXPANSION RINGS ALARM BELLS
Katter’s Australian Party (KAP) MPs will vehemently oppose any expansion of access to abortion across Queensland.
KAP Leader and Traeger MP Robbie Katter said the introduction of the Health and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2023 into the Queensland Parliament last week was another example of the State government flashing its credentials on abortion to the “woke brigade” before an election, rather than an expression of concern for women’s maternal and mental health.
Mr Katter said the Bill’s loosening of restrictions on who could prescribe the medical abortion pill to include nurses and midwives was intended to enable women to access abortion more easily, further compounding the risks endemic in the current law which weigh against the moral and emotional gravity of such decisions in a woman’s life.
“There’s a lot of scrutiny currently there for a reason because a woman contemplating ending the life of her child may be experiencing immeasurable stress which the law doesn’t care about and nor does the State Government,” he said.
“It’s not just that we at KAP disagree with these laws on principle, it’s that if you took an agnostic view of abortion, there’s no mandatory support built into the process before or after abortion for the mother.
“So with this Bill we’re not focussed on the health of her or whether she’s made the right decision, the whole focus of the Bill is just to make the process easier and quicker,” he said.
Mr Katter said the Bill’s ultimate disregard for the actual experience of pregnancy was reflected in the legislation’s removal of any reference to “woman,” which will now be substituted with “person.”
“Women” will not be referred to in the amended Termination of Pregnancy Act at all.
“How the Palaszczuk Labor Government think they can believably talk outside both sides of their mouths on this issue, on one hand claiming to be pushing these changes for the betterment of women’s rights whilst simultaneously wiping out any reference to them, is beyond me,” he said.
“My concern is this is a cheap gesture, being opportunistically pursued off the back of the Therapeutic Goods Association’s prescribing restriction decision in July, to quell political pressure on Labor in regards to their dismal provision of health care access in rural and regional communities.”
Mr Katter said claims by the government that the expanding of prescribing rights necessary to address “postcode” deficits was a cop-out.
The Health and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2023 will, in an Australian first, allow nurses and midwives to dispense MS-2 Step pregnancy termination medication.
In the Bill’s Explanatory Notes, Queensland Health Minister Shannon Fentiman explained the Bill would expand access to early terminations in rural and remote areas.
“There is only a short window of opportunity for pregnant persons to choose to have less invasive, early medical termination by taking MS-2 Step up to nine weeks’ gestation,” the Explanatory Notes read.
“A person seeking a termination after this time may have to be admitted to hospital for a more complex and psychologically challenging medical induction or surgical termination.
“For people living in rural and remote areas, this often involves the added social and financial burden of travelling long distances to access these services.”
Mr Katter said he would never accept the argument that, in order to improve rural and remote healthcare access, shortcuts – including in relation to complex personal matters such as abortion – would need to be taken.
“Whether it is in relation to access to abortion, voluntary assisted dying (VAD) or even something as noncontroversial as dialysis, we see time and time again rural and regional Queenslanders relegated to the status of second-class citizens who should be forced to access a lesser standard of care,” he said.