Did you know abortion is still in the Queensland Criminal Code?
Under the 1899 Criminal Code, abortion is unlawful, but because of court judgements in more recent years is usually accepted to be legal if it’s performed to prevent a serious risk of harm to a woman’s life or her physical or mental health.
Sections 224-226 of the 1899 Criminal Code read as follows:
Section 224. Any person who, with intent to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to her or causes her to take any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 14 years.
Section 225. Any woman who, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, whether she is or is not with child, unlawfully administers to herself any poison or other noxious thing, or uses any force of any kind, or uses any other means whatever, or permits any such thing or means to be administered or used to her, is guilty of a crime, and is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.
Section 226. Any person who unlawfully supplies to or procures for any person anything whatever, knowing that it is intended to be unlawfully used to procure the miscarriage of a woman, whether she is or is not with child, is guilty of a misdemeanour, and is liable to imprisonment for 3 years.
There’s some information over on the Children by Choice website about how the law works – it’s a complicated issue so worth a read.
Our #itsnot1899 campaign is working to support the decriminalisation of abortion in Queensland.
We’ve come a long way in many respects since 1899.
When this law was written in 1899, women didn’t even have the right to vote.
Pregnancy tests and ultrasounds hadn’t been invented – which is why those sections make abortion a crime ‘whether or not she is with child’, because it was impossible to tell until women either felt fetal movement or their pregnancy started to show.
In 1899, abortion was a dangerous undertaking that resulted in the deaths and permanent disability of many thousands of women, because it was something either attempted at home or by mostly unskilled or unscrupulous operators, using whatever was to hand. Infections could – and did – kill.
In 1861, when the legislation in the UK on which ours is based was written, doctors hadn’t started washing their hands between patients to prevent the spread of disease, because nobody knew that germs existed.
Since then, a lot of things have happened. Commercial flights and vaccinations and flushing toilets and electricity and running water. SPACE TRAVEL.
Societal attitudes have changed considerably. Medical practice is incredibly advanced.
We need – and deserve – abortion laws for the 21st century, not the 19th.
Laws from the 1800s have no business governing medical practice in 2017.
We need decriminalisation. Because #itsnot1899.