FAQ on Infant Viability Bill 2015

Will this Bill criminalise women?  Doesn’t the late-term abortion end that infant’s life?  Does the Bill imply that abortion before 20 weeks is OK?  For answers...

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Does the Bill imply that abortion before 20 weeks is OK?

No. The Bill is the first formal attempt to wind back the abortion laws in Victoria that were introduced in 2008. To take a pragmatic approach that has the best chance of succeeding, this Bill is about abortion from the 20th week of pregnancy only. This Bill has been influenced by successful pro-life legislation in the United States, and does not prevent the introduction of future legislation to further improve abortion laws in the state.

What is the difference between an abortion and a termination of pregnancy?

A common misconception is that only abortions are terminations. A ‘termination of pregnancy' means an end to pregnancy. While an abortion terminates pregnancy, so does a delivery. A ‘termination of pregnancy’ is not limited to being the result of an abortion; it is also the result of the delivery of a baby.
How is it possible to give the infant a chance at life in the case of a late-term abortion performed for a medical emergency? Doesn’t the late-term abortion end that infant’s life?

What the Bill is saying is that in the case of a medical emergency (where the continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman) from the 20th week of pregnancy onwards: (1) the end of pregnancy should be performed in such a way that still gives the preborn child the best chance of survival, and (2), all infants born alive after such a termination must be given immediate care with the intent to save the life or preserve the health of that infant. Any babies born alive must be cared for and must not be neglected or left to die.

What if the mother does not want to keep her child that was born alive following a termination of pregnancy procured under the medical emergency provision?

Such instances will be covered by foster care legislation, just like in any other situation where a mother gives birth to her child but chooses not to keep the baby.

What is meant by a ‘medical emergency’?

This is a condition in which a termination is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, or when continuation of the pregnancy will create a serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.

Will this Bill criminalise women?

This Bill does not criminalise or inflict any penalties on women seeking abortions. Only doctors and medical facilities will face penalties for violating the law.
Abortion Laws were settled in 2008.

Just because laws are written down does not mean they should always go unchanged. Laws change all the time and only a totalitarian regime would prevent laws from being democratically changed. There have been a number of medical advances post-2008, including in the area of fetal surgery and survival rates of babies born post-20 weeks’ gestation. The current laws need to be updated to recognize these advances. This is something which is occurring across the world – Victoria should be no different.

The future of a pregnancy should remain a private matter between the woman and her doctor.

This implies that abortions are only performed after a serious discussion about the risks involved, the woman’s prior health history, and an overall decision of what is right for the woman. Such a process is generally expected for any serious medical procedure. However, with an abortion, this is not what happens in a majority of circumstances. Many abortions are provided by specialist clinics, as an outpatient procedure. In addition, there is no requirement under the current law to ensure that women receive the counselling they need when experiencing distress related to their pregnancy. Expectant mothers have a right to know their options.


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