The story so far
Debate in the Legislative Assembly
On 1 August 2019 the Independent member Alex Greenwich introduced a bill into the Legislative Assembly to decriminalise abortion in New South Wales and for it to be regulated as a health matter. The bill was co-sponsored by 15 members across both Houses and from across the political divide. Debate was adjourned until the following week to give members time to consider the bill. Read Mr Greenwich’s speech and the bill’s explanatory notes for more details.
When Parliament resumed on 6 August, the Legislative Assembly devoted much of the week to debating the bill, which passed at 11 pm on 8 August following three days of robust debate. The Assembly made 21 amendments to the original bill before forwarding it to the Council for consideration.
Legislative Council committee inquiry
While debate was taking place in the Assembly, the Legislative Council, in preparation for receiving the bill, resolved that its Social Issues Committee conduct a short, sharp inquiry into the bill to give stakeholders an opportunity to provide their views to upper House members.
The committee received over 13,000 submissions from the public and heard 15 hours of evidence from 44 witnesses. The committee produced a report based on the evidence received which was published just prior to the Council sitting on Tuesday 20 August.
Debate in the Legislative Council
The Council proceeded to debate the bill on 20 and 21 August. Over this 10 hour debate all members spoke, except for the President in the Chair, with each thoughtfully noting their reasons for supporting or opposing the bill.
Members opposing the bill sought to amend the second reading motion by either referring the bill to a Joint Select Committee for a further inquiry, or to prevent it from being considered again this session of Parliament (known as a ‘This day six months’ amendment). Both proposals were defeated.
The second reading (the stage at which members indicate whether there is in principle support for the bill, or not) was ultimately agreed to on 21 August with 26 members voting in favour of the bill and 15 voting against it:
The next steps
The Legislative Council is set to debate the bill when Parliament resumes on 17 September following the Budget Estimates hearings.
The whole of 17 and 18 September (except for Questions Time) has been set aside for the bill, during which time the House will consider any proposed amendments.
Once amendments are received and their proposers give the go-ahead for the amendments to be circulated, they are uploaded to the bill’s page on our website.
In order to become law, the bill must pass both Houses in the same form. This means that if the Council passes the bill with amendments, the Assembly will need to agree to those amendments. If no amendments are made in the Council, no further proceedings are required in the Assembly.
If the bill does pass both Houses in the same form it will be presented to the Governor of New South Wales for assent and will become law.
How you can stay informed
✔️ Check out the bill page on our website to read proposed amendments
✔️ Follow our ‘Running Record’ with real time updates when the House is sitting
✔️ Watch the livestream of the House sitting
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