Independent Cairns MP Rob Pyne has told BuzzFeed News that he decided to withdraw his bill to decriminalise abortion in Queensland a day before it was due to be debated in parliament "for the sake of the cause".
"If I introduce the bill tomorrow, it will fail," Pyne said.
"I would have enjoyed nothing more than to hold recalcitrant MPs to account, but I felt that would have been self-indulgent to do that just to gain that satisfaction, if it meant the bill going down."
Abortion remains a crime in Queensland, and is only lawful to prevent serious danger to a woman’s physical or mental health.
Last night Liberal National Party opposition leader Tim Nicholls announced that “every single member” of his party would vote down Pyne's proposal to decriminalise abortion, meaning the legislation was unlikely to pass.
“If a woman in Queensland wants or needs an abortion she can obtain one safely through her doctor," Nicholls said in a statement.
But Pyne disagreed: "It shows how out of touch [Nicholls] is with Queensland women. Does he not know that we have women crowdfunding to get money for an abortion? Does he not know that many women in regional and remote areas cannot get a GP to perform this for them?"
This morning the Queensland Labor government promised, if reelected, to introduce a bill to “modernise Queensland’s abortion laws” pending advice from the Queensland Law Reform Commission.
Pyne told BuzzFeed News that the failed bill had enabled him "to get a commitment from this government that they will refer the matter to the commission in a similar fashion to a referral made by the Victorian government, which preceded reforms and decriminalisation in that state".
"I was happy to gain a commitment from this Labor government to reform abortion laws in the state of Queensland," Pyne will tell Queensland parliament when he formally withdraws the bill.
"This is consistent with my belief that in 2017 there should be no place for this procedure in the criminal code and that it should be treated as a women's health issue."
Pyne will condemn the opposition for planning to vote down the bills and will quote last week's Courier Mail poll, which found more than 80% of Queenslanders supported removing abortion from the criminal code.
"This is an emotive area and there has been considerable misinformation distributed as part of this debate."
Claims made by his opponents about decriminalisation encouraging terminations up to nine months gestation, he will say, are "unfounded, nonsensical and offensive".
"Indeed the only medical intervention at nine months is to induce labour and the only other name for it is childbirth."
Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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