"Pregnant and no civil rights"

UPDATE: The Bill proposing the introduction of foetal personhood laws in NSW has now lapsed; thanks to a concerted campaign by thousands of voters and advocacy groups across NSW, including the Women's Electoral Lobby and F Collective. Advocates say they will reintroduce the proposed changes, but this is an important win.


“Pregnant, and no civil rights” – that’s the headline of last week’s New York Times piece about the impact of “personhood” laws and anti-abortion measures in the United States.1 Tomorrow morning, the NSW Legislative Council will vote on a Bill that would introduce foetus personhood laws to Australia for the first time. 

The law in question – Zoe’s Law – would give the status of “legal personhood” to a foetus at 20 weeks gestation, or 400 grams of mass.2 Since it was first proposed, several expert groups have spoken out in concern – including the NSW Bar Association who stated that the proposed law will have “obvious implications for late term abortions.”3 

NSW Legislative Councillors are expected to be asked to cast a personal vote to determine the fate of this legislation tomorrow. It could go either way. Can you contact the Councillors for your region right now and urge them to vote against this anti-choice, anti-woman measure?

Find the contact details for the Councillor representing you here.

Not sure what to say? Here are some pointers:

  • Mention you're getting in touch about tomorrow's vote on Zoe's law - as you're concerned about the impact that the law would have on pregnant women and abortion rights in the state.
  • If you have voted for that individual, or their party, in the past - let them know.
  • You might want to mention the experts who have spoken out against the legislation, including the NSW Bar Association, Australian Medical Association (NSW), Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia and Community Legal Centres. You could also mention the recent piece in the New York Times about the way foetal personhood style laws are being used to deprive women of their medical privacy and bodily integrity in the United States.
  • Ask them how they'll be voting on the legislation tomorrow, and urge them to vote against this anti-woman, anti-choice measure.

Want to read more about the proposed law? Check out this great piece written by Ruby Hamad yesterday: "Foetal personhood laws have terrible consequences for women, but not necessarily for the reasons you might think"


[1] Pregnant, and no civil rights, The New York Times, 7 November 2014.

[2] Foetal Personhood Bill ("Zoe's Law"), Women's Legal Services NSW

[3] AMA (NSW) position on Crimes Amendment (Zoe’s Law) Bill No. 2 2013, plus statements from MDA National, Women’s Legal Services, Community Legal Services, Equality Rights Alliance, Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia et al hereThe New South Wales Bar Association letter dated 6 September 2013.