Queensland was praised in October when it joined the list of states and territories that have decriminalised abortion.
But Labor says there is still “unfinished business” on the issue.
“Since we last met, Labor state and territory governments have made significant progress on access to sexual and reproductive health care across Australia,” Shadow Health Minister Catherine King told delegates at the ALP national conference in Adelaide today.
“Queensland has decriminalised abortion. The Northern Territory has amended its laws to enable medical termination of pregnancy and overhauled its abortion laws. New South Wales has introduced safe access zones to protect patients and staff through a Labor Private Member’s Bill.
“The ACT has amended its laws to enable medical termination. Victoria has introduced a Women’s Reproductive Health Strategy. And Tasmanian Labor has campaigned on the closure of the state’s only abortion clinic.
“But there is clearly more to be done.”
Ms King pointed to New South Wales and South Australia as the two states in desperate need of more progress.
“Abortion remains a crime in New South Wales, impacting a third of Australian women. And here in South Australia, a woman can still be charged for obtaining an ‘unlawful’ abortion,” she said.
Under current NSW law, abortion is only legal if a doctor decides a woman’s physical or mental health is at risk. That does include some consideration of social and economic factors.
An unlawful abortion can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in jail.
Ms King said Labor would push to end the “patchwork of inconsistent laws” on abortion across the country, should it win government.
The conference passed a resolution enshrining that goal in its national policy platform.
“It commits us to developing a national sexual and reproductive health strategy for all Australians, including reviewing the availability of sexual and reproductive health services.
“And it commits us to working with the states to improve the accessibility, legality and affordability of both surgical and medical terminations across Australia, including full decriminalisation and better provision of abortion in public hospitals,” Ms King said.
“It makes it clear that we believe legal, safe, affordable and accessible abortion is fundamental to social and economic equality.
“It sets out our vision for fully funded and universal access to surgical and medical abortion.
“And it makes clear that a Shorten Labor Government will use commonwealth and state funding agreements to secure safe, affordable, accessible abortion across Australia.”