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Abortion in Context: The Path to Decriminalisation

Sexual Health Quarters presents a riveting panel discussion that delves into a critical moment in Western Australian history—the 1998 reforms that changed the landscape of abortion access in the state. Join us on International Safe Abortion Day to gain insight into the courageous efforts and transformative impact of the individuals who played instrumental roles in Western Australian abortion reform.

Date: 28th September 2023

Time: 5.30 – 7.30pm

Venue: CPSU/CSA, Level 6, 445 Hay Street Perth 6000

Tickets: https://events.humanitix.com/abortion-in-context

On 21st June of this year, the Western Australian Government moved to modernise our current abortion laws, introducing the Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023 in Parliament. The Bill continues the work started by our guest speakers in the 1990s, removing abortion from the criminal code and removing clinically unnecessary barriers for people accessing abortion.

We are excited to hear from those at the forefront of the movement advocating for women’s rights and reproductive autonomy in our state.

The panel will discuss:

  • The process of drafting and passing The Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill 1998.
  • What it meant for women and healthcare providers.
  • The limitations of the legislation.
  • The political and social climate at the time.
  • The Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023.

Featured Guest Speakers

Cheryl Davenport AM

Cheryl is a former member of the Western Australian Legislative Council. She has been a life-long advocate for reproductive rights and in 1998 she wrote and introduced the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill 1998 while in opposition. Thanks to her courageous efforts, Western Australia was the first state to decriminalise abortion. She hasn’t stopped fighting for reproductive rights and has been a passionate advocate for further reform. Cheryl recently joined the Western Australian Health Minister and Premier at Parliament House to speak in support of the Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023.

Diana Warnock OAM

Diana was elected to the State Parliament in 1993, representing the seat of Perth for 8 years. In 1998 she steered the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill through the Legislative Assembly. Before entering Parliament, she was a journalist and radio broadcaster. In 1999 she was awarded the Australian Humanist of the Year in honour of her work as a women’s rights activist.

Stephanie Mayman

Stephanie Mayman is the former state secretary of the Trade Labour Council (now UnionsWA). At the time of the 1998 reforms she was the Assistant Secretary of the Trade Labour Council and was heavily involved in the community campaign working to build support for the reforms.

Since leaving the Trade Labour Council, she has served as a Commissioner on WA Occupational Health and Safety Tribunal and the WA Industrial Relations Tribunal, and Chair of Ministerial Advisory Panel (MAP) on Work, Health and Safety Legal Recommendations for WA and the WA Occupational Safety and Health Commission. She is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor of Health Sciences at ECU Western Australia, the Chair of the Occupational and Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) Consultative Committee (ECU) and Senior Consultant at Mayman and Associates.

Dr Scott Blackwell

Scott Blackwell is a GP of over 50 years standing.
In 1997/98 he was president of the AMA in WA when 2 doctors were charged with procuring an abortion and his first responsibility was to support the two doctors concerned. Abortion in WA halted as a result and a Public Health crisis emerged. Septic abortions reappeared, terminations related to genetic counselling ceased and Western Australian women started to look interstate for help. Scott led the medical profession in helping to find a solution to this Public Health crisis. The team of politicians, women’s health advocates, public health experts, medical professionals and others all contributed their support as Cheryl Davenport drafted the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill 1998.
Scott has been President of Palliative Care WA and Palliative Care Australia since his time as AMA WA President. More recently he was a member of the Malcolm McCusker lead Ministerial Expert Panel that advised Government on the development of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2019 and subsequently became Chair of the VAD Implementation Leadership Team that took on the task of implementing VAD in WA. He is currently Chair of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Board of Western Australia.

Dr Judy Straton

Dr Straton is a retired physician and a powerful and passionate advocate for sexual and reproductive health rights in Western Australia. While Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of WA, she worked closely with Cheryl Davenport as a medical advisor as she steered the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Bill 1998 through the Western Australian Parliament.

She played a key role in the reforms, preparing resources on the need for safe legal abortion, acting as spokesperson for the Coalition for Legal Abortion and speaking at the Rally for Repeal. In the Parliament, as well as her work as advisor to Cheryl Devonport in the Legislative Council, she provided regular advice to the cross-party group of pro-choice MP’s about the wording of the legislation and the implications of the various proposed amendments.


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Funds raised will go towards Sexual Health Quarters’ Reproductive Rights Fund providing contraception and medical termination services to people in need.