Adelaide: Let your MP know you support legal and compassionate access to abortion care

In order to determine how she will vote on the bill for safe, legal and compassionate access to abortion care, Rachel Sanderson MP for Adelaide is asking her constituents to complete a survey, voicing their opinions of key parts of the bill. 

If you're a constituent in Adelaide, make sure to complete her survey and let her know your position. Fair Agenda have put together an explainer below to help inform your responses. 

OPEN THE SURVEY

The process for completing the survey (click to view) 

Rachel Sanderson MP is using a simple online survey to find out where her constituents stand on the proposed bill to reform abortion care. To make your submission simply: 

  1. Follow this url: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=fp1MaeavfkeqdCuPx12G6Og5BrVAlJFBrI1WmuQLQeJUQlVIRElQT0dNVURBUDdIQzlBTFVIMkNLUS4u
  2. Fill in your contact details
  3. Click next
  4. Respond to each question:
    → You’ll be given a chance to select either yes/no/indifferent/other
    → We’ve provided short background information and suggested responses below
  5. Once you've hit submit, make sure you sign on to the campaign to decriminalise abortion care in South Australia, so Fair Agenda can keep you updated on key developments and opportunities to help secure abortion reform in SA. 

 

The questions and sample responses (click to view) 

The online survey asks whether you support key provisions in the bill. You can access an explanation of each question and recommended responses below:

Q5. Do you support the termination of pregnancy being moved from criminal law jurisdiction to health law?

What this question is about: whether or not abortion care should fall under criminal law, or health law. Currently abortion care is regulated under criminal laws, with several outdated restrictions, which discourage many doctors from providing the care at all, and impacts on many patients’ ability to access care locally and in a timely manner. 

Recommended answer: YES

 

Q6. Do you support the lawful termination of pregnancy to be shortened from 28 weeks to 22 weeks and 6 days without further legal criteria?

What this question is about: the proposed provision to determine the process by which patients can access care under health laws. 

Under current criminal laws patients can only legally access abortion care if two doctors decide for them, up until 28 weeks in pregnancy (in practice 24 weeks). The proposed bill would provide for a patient to have agency over their own healthcare decisions until 22 weeks 6 days (and after that point if two doctors agree it is appropriate in all the circumstances). 

While the leading standards body for obstetricians and gynaecologists recommends against specifying such a gestational range; this provision is similar to that already in place in Victoria and Queensland. 

A patient can need abortion care later in pregnancy for a range of complex, distressing, and deeply personal reasons. The scan that’s normally scheduled for 18-20 weeks is the first time that many devastating fetal abnormalities can be diagnosed, and at that point additional tests and follow up appointments might be needed in order to confirm a diagnosis.

It’s important that patients and families in these circumstances don’t face increased barriers and hurdles to jump through at an already distressing time. Patients and families in those circumstances often need time to process this information, and can feel rushed and pressured to make a decision for themselves, before that right is taken away from them. 

Recommended answer: OTHER (we would suggest including the following text):

I support the proposed provisions in the Termination of Pregnancy Bill as they relate to accessing abortion care up until and after 22 weeks and 6 days in pregnancy.

I know that a patient may need to access abortion care later in pregnancy for a range of complex, distressing and deeply personal reasons. I believe the patient, supported by medical experts, is best placed to determine what’s best for them and their family in those complicated and difficult circumstances, and that our laws shouldn’t create barriers to them accessing the care they need. 

 

Q7. Do you support the reduction of the required approval of medical practitioners from two to one during the period up to 22 weeks and 6 days?

What this question is about: this provision is about the process that a patient must go through in order to access the abortion care they need. Currently patients must get approval from two medical practitioners in order to access care, which can create delays, particularly for those in rural areas. This proposed change would enable patients greater control over their own healthcare, and is in line with the laws already in operation in states like Victoria and Queensland. 

Recommended answer: YES

 

Q8. Do you support the proposal to only allow abortions after the required period to require the approval of two medical practitioners who deem it to be ‘medically appropriate’ for the procedure to be conducted?

What this question is about: the laws that should govern a patient’s access to abortion care later in pregnancy.

A patient can need abortion care later in pregnancy for a range of complex, distressing, and deeply personal reasons. They might have received a catastrophic diagnosis for their own health, for the pregnancy, or be trying to escape an abuser who is obstructing their access to healthcare and may even be trying to use the pregnancy to trap them in that situation. This provision is about making it possible for a patient, supported by their medical experts, to access the care they need in those complicated and difficult circumstances.

Recommended answer: YES

 

Q9. Do you support the allowance of registered medical practitioners to conduct termination of pregnancies without being at a prescribed hospital?

What this question is about: this provision is about allowing patients to access the care they need closer to home, and from GPs and other certified medical practitioners as is possible in other states. The current laws arbitrarily require abortion care to be provided in a “prescribed hospital” - forcing some patients in regional areas to travel hundreds of kilometres, away from their home and support systems, to access care they’d be able to get from a GP in another state. 

Recommended answer: YES

 

Q10. Do you support the removal of the two months residency requirement?

What this question is about: this provision is about allowing patients who come to South Australia for care to access it, regardless of how long they’ve lived in the state, or if they’re travelling from a border town. 

Recommended answer: YES

 

Q11. Do you support the criminalisation of backyard abortions?

What this question is about: this provision is about making it illegal for an unqualified person to perform, or assist in providing abortion care. 

There is no evidence that anyone would seek abortion care from an unqualified provider when safe abortions are available. There is also no evidence of anyone trying to provide such abortions.  Health law already has penalties for unqualified providers, and a special law is not needed.

Recommended answer: No

 

Q12. Do you support the introduction of coercive control into the meaning of domestic and non-domestic abuse?

What this question is about: This clause will make it clear in South Australian law for intervention orders against abuse and violence that preventing or forcing someone to have an abortion is an offence against an intervention order.

While the complexities and unintended consequences of criminalising coercive control more broadly require further consideration, we support this specific provision relating to reproductive coercion. 

Recommended answer: Yes

 

Q13. Do you support the ability for medical practitioners to conscientiously object to performing termination of pregnancy procedures?

What this question is about:  a provision in the proposed bill would allow medical practitioners to refuse to provide abortion care on the basis of their personal beliefs as long as they tell their patient where they can get unbiased advice or care. This requirement is important in ensuring a doctor who opposes abortion isn’t able to use their personal beliefs to obstruct their patients access to care. This can be particularly harmful for patients in rural areas who may not know where else they can easily access care.

Recommended answer: YES 

 

Q14. Do you support the removal of the requirement for in-person medical examination prior to terminating a pregnancy?

What this question is about: if you’re living in rural South Australia, finding a local doctor who can provide you with the abortion care you need, when you need it, isn’t always easy. 

The proposed new bill would allow a patient who can’t quickly see a local doctor for abortion care in person to speak to a trained medical professional online and get the advice they need, plus orders for the standard ultrasound check, so they can then move forward with getting the medication they need without further delaying their care. This is known as telehealth abortion care, and is already standard practice in other states. 

Recommended answer: YES