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Australia legalizes abortion nationwide

Lawmakers were given a conscience vote on the bill, which passed thanks to supporting from three Liberal-National opposition members. Only one Labor member voted against the bill.

SNS | New Delhi |

Abortion has been legalised across Australia after the New South Wales state legislature passed a law on Thursday to decriminalize the termination of pregnancy, which had been punishable by 10 years in prison for the last 119 years.

After an intense and endless debate that lasted more than 70 hours, most members of the regional legislature voted in favour of the measure, which was rejected by conservative religious groups and politicians, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Efe news reported.

Alex Greenwich, a lawmaker from an independent group that pushed the bill, thanked his colleagues for their support for what he termed as a historic reform.

Wednesday’s ruling marks a long-awaited victory for abortion-rights activists there, and the changes could come into effect later this year.

Lawmakers were given a conscience vote on the bill, which passed thanks to supporting from three Liberal-National opposition members. Only one Labor member voted against the bill.

Queensland’s Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk took to Twitter, saying “History has been made. Women will no longer have the fear of committing a crime when making deeply personal decisions over their own bodies”.

Queensland’s laws made headlines in April when a 12-year-old girl had to seek permission from the Supreme Court to obtain an abortion for the sake of her physical and mental health.

With decriminalization in NSW, which last year set up safe zones to prevent women visiting abortion clinics from being harassed by protesters, abortion is legal throughout Australia.

Legislation on the reproductive health of women in Australia is the responsibility of regional governments and laws vary according to states with regard to the permissible period for voluntary termination of pregnancy, the procedure and age, among other factors.

(With IANS inputs)