Australia Will Debate Personhood Law

If a new proposal in the Australian state of South Wales becomes law, women who abort a fetus after 20 weeks could be charged with grievous bodily harm.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

Australian women’s groups are calling this proposal to give a fetus personhood rights the first step toward making abortion illegal in the state. It was set to be debated by the state parliament yesterday, but has been delayed until next week so pro-choice advocates can discuss ramifications of such a law with legislators.

“This bill established personhood for a foetus [sic] and this is a very concerning precedent to be setting,” said Melanie Fernandez, chair of the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia. “That kind of precedent has been used as a first starting point to roll back abortion right in other places, such as states in America.”

The bill is being called “Zoe’s law,” named for a 32-week-old unborn fetus that died when the mother was hit by a car in 2009. Because South Wales did not view the fetus as a person, the driver was not charged with its murder. He was charged with driving under the influence and causing “grievous bodily harm.”

Media Resources: ABC 9/12/2013; The Guardian 9/12/2013

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