ON OCTOBER 12, 20 year-old Tegan Leach will be the first woman in Queensland legal history to stand trial for procuring an abortion. Leach could go to prison for seven years if found guilty. Her partner, Sergie Brennan, could face three years behind bars for aiding the procurement of abortion.
The charges have sparked demands for a rewrite of the state’s nineteenth-century abortion laws to take abortion out of the criminal code.
Queensland obstetrician Dr Caroline de Costa has researched the history of abortion in Australia and has found that this case is unique.
Despite the laws being condemned as “archaic,” the state government has, since 2009, been actively enforcing the anti-choice legislation in public hospitals, meaning women have been unable to access publicly-funded abortions.
A recent survey published in the Medical Journal of Australia showed a massive 90 per cent of Australians believe abortion should be lawful in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
But Queensland premier, Anna Bligh, repeatedly refuses to put a private members’ bill to parliament for a vote on legalising abortion.
Pro-choice campaigners are not waiting for Bligh. A national day of protest is planned for October 9, the Saturday before the trial.