More than 35 groups have signed an open letter, which is being delivered to every member of the Queensland Parliament, arguing the state’s current abortion laws are “archaic, cruel and degrading”.
“They increase the distress, delay and financial burden faced by Queenslanders who have made the decision to end a pregnancy,” the letter reads.
“They also mean women in need are often turned away when seeking care at public hospitals.”
Queensland and New South Wales are the only two Australian states where abortion is still a criminal offence.
The Palaszczuk Labor government has introduced a bill which would decriminalise abortion, including safe access zones and a requirement for doctors who conscientiously object to refer patients to another medical professional.
The groups argue the current laws disproportionately harm women living in rural and remote areas and women affected by physical and sexual violence.
“Queenslanders shouldn’t have to drive hundreds of kilometres, or fly interstate, to access basic healthcare; and they should never be forced to turn to medically dangerous or clandestine alternatives to end a pregnancy,” the letter said.
“We urge you to be on the right side of history and vote yes for the Termination of Pregnancy Bill.”
The letter was signed by the Queensland Teachers’ Union, the Women’s Legal Service Queensland, Youth Affairs Network Queensland and pro-choice groups such as Children by Choice.
Meanwhile, a ReachTEL survey of 1327 Queenslanders found almost 72 per cent of people agreed or strongly agreed the law should be changed so accessing or providing an abortion was no longer a criminal offence in Queensland.
The survey, commissioned by pro-choice group Fair Agenda, also found 32.4 per cent of people would be less likely to vote for an MP who “opposes legal access to abortion for all Queenslanders”, while 40 per cent said their vote would be unchanged.
It comes after a different poll, commissioned by pro-life groups Cherish Life Queensland and the Australian Family Association, which found 39 per cent of voters would be less likely to vote for their MP if they voted to support the bill.
That poll, by YouGov Galaxy, asked: “If your local member of state Parliament voted in favour of the Queensland Labor government’s Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which effectively would allow abortion for any reason until birth, would you be less or more likely to vote for your member of Parliament at the next state election?”
Labor’s proposed bill would allow women to terminate a pregnancy up to 22 weeks’ gestation without providing a reason.
After that time, a doctor would need to consult with a second doctor to receive approval.
Labor will allow its MPs a conscience vote, while the LNP has not yet announced whether its members will be forced to vote along party lines.
A parliamentary committee considering a bill to legalise abortion in Queensland is due to table its report on Friday. The legislation will be debated in Parliament in mid-October.
It is the second attempt to reform Queensland’s abortion laws in recent years after independent MP Rob Pyne withdrew his two private member’s bills in 2017 as it became apparent they were doomed to fail in the Parliament.