Over the last few months Victorian women have shared with us their thoughts and experiences on abortion.
Read what they have to say.
The decision to have a termination is an incredibly difficult one to make and each woman’s story is different.
Following are personal accounts from four Victorian women who have had an abortion in the last few years.
What a woman does with her body is her business and hers alone!
I believe women can make a decision to have a child or not. Women are the carriers and always have all the responsibility.
It's my right to choose.
Everyone has a right to an opinion, including the anti-abortion lobby groups, but don’t let that compromise people's right to have a choice.
It has taken too long.
No-one else has the right to make a decision on behalf of a woman in this position.
It's not a religious issue!
Pregnancy termination is a crucial right for women. I need to know that I won't have to give up all my plans if I get pregnant. It’s a medical decision and women must have autonomy over their bodies.
I want to be seen as a responsible and civilised human being who is capable of making responsible decisions in relation to my own health and don't want to see my actions being criminalised or restricted in any other way.
Abortion should be seen as any other medical procedure.
It's their body, their choice. Make it legal so abortion procedures can be carried out safely.
Women should be able to decide the future of the child, and the direction their lives will take.
I believe every woman has the right to make informed choices about her life.
It should be a women's right to decide.
It's a personal choice.
It is every woman's right to decide what happens to her body, not politicians.
Heaven forbid that we return to the 'old days' when women died from illegal abortions, as an old nurse called them - heartbreaking.
No-one can tell another person what to do with their body. No-one can force a woman to have a baby.
My body means my right to chose.
There are a multitude if life situations that arise for women when unplanned/unwanted pregnancy can jeopardise health and life. This needs to be recognised by our legal system in order for social justice to prevail.
Women's bodies belong to them to make choices. Prevention to have an unwanted baby is best.
Women do not undertake it lightly and have many reasons for choosing the procedure. Please make it safe and easy.
Responsible adults deserve the right to chose.
The risks to women and children of criminalising abortion make a travesty of 'right to life'.
It's a hard enough choice.
Apart from the obvious mistakes happen, it is our right and fear for mother and child.
Sexual and reproductive health is a fundamental human right and informed choices and options respect that right. Respect and equity.
Leave women's bodies alone!!
As a GP I see many women who need a chance of abortion for unplanned pregnancy - for mental and physical health reasons.
We have the gift if being able to have life, but we should have the right to decide when or whether we should make the sacrifice to do so.
Women should have the right to choose - if she decides not to continue her pregnancy she must have access to legal, medical services.
People who clearly do not want children (it is a personal choice) should not have to bring children into such situation.
I have the right to chose! Make it legal.
Having children when they are unwanted is bad for the mother, baby and everyone involved.
Pro-choice is the way to go without fear and shame.
A child deserves and recognises a lot of attention, resources and opportunities. If a woman can't provide that she should have a choice in whether to have the child or not. Child raising is a serious matter.
Every woman deserves the freedom to be able to make choices about their lives.
It is a fundamental right to control one's fertility.
Simple! It's her body, her life that will change: her choice!!
It may be better to act responsibly for ones self and their children's future than bring an unwanted child into the world.
No one has the right to tell women what to do with their bodies.
All women deserve the right to choose the fate of their life’s direction.
The Crimes Act is not the way to deal with a medical issue. A caring society would value women's voices and listen to their needs and wants.
Protect the mother’s right to choice.
I have had 2 children and 2 abortions in my life. My first abortion just after my 21st birthday and my second not long after. I already had my other 2 daughters between the age of 19 and 21 and could not use birth control as it did not work. I had an irresponsible drug addict partner who to no responsibility. I was in no position to have more children. We are no longer together, I am a struggling single mother of 2. And would have found life difficult to look after 4. Bringing these other 2 into my world at the time was not right.
We have been fighting this battle too long.
As a mother, I have the right to choose what is best for my children, both born and unborn.
As a man I believe that women have the right to choose when to conceive. Mistakes are made but paying the price is not best for the child most of the time.
It is my right to decide not those who purport to decide the morals of the majority. What right have they?
Living in a country with free speech, I believe it is in every woman's right to make a choice about freedom of their body.
It is a woman's body and her life. She should have the ultimate say as to what happens to her body.
Pro Choice is not Pro Abortion. Criminalisation removes choice.
A woman is the best person to make a decision about her problem pregnancy, not legislature which knows nothing about her and her circumstances.
Abortion should be available as a range of reproductive health choices.
My body my decision!
No legislation, politician or other can make that decision. It is my decision alone, it should be my decision.
You cannot tell people what decisions to make when it concerns their life and body.
As the foetus can't exist on its own, it is the woman's not society’s right to decide on life, until the foetus does not rely on her for life.
Women's bodies, women's choice.
I am strong enough to stand by the choices I make.
Keep your laws off my body.
No one can ever really understand my personal circumstances more than me and my partner.
Women need the right to decide what is right for them without worrying about prosecution!
The woman knows best what probable future life the foetus will have. A child has the right not to be born if it will have no parental support or care.
It's a choice for the individual. Pro-choice doesn’t force ideas on pro-life, they just want to make their own decisions.
Because I don't want any one else making decisions about my body.
Every woman should have the right to choose - it is her body/mind.
Because it is my body and my right to decide what I want to do with it.
Women have a right to choose and decide what's best for them and whether are able to have a child.
A foetus is not a child. I decide what happens to my body and when. The laws of Victoria need to reflect this right.
It's a women's choice what to do with her own body - make it safe and legal for her!
The right to choice is the foundation of a civil society.
CHOICE - it is for me to make! Not anyone else - not government or politicians to make for me.
The anti abortion position has never been accompanied by responsibility for the women and unwanted children affected. It's time to afford women both rights and responsibility.
Having a child is the most life changing thing to happen in life. Women have the right to choose when and if they want this to happen.
Too many women in the world have no control over their bodies. Set the example, give us back our bodies.
It's my body, my physical risk in giving birth. A foetus is not a child. Banning abortion is just a way to control women, their bodies, their emotions and their lives, since being forced to give birth impacts on women forever!
I'm a male and I believe its every women's right to chose whether or not she has a child.
Women have the need and right to decide whether they have a child and children have the need and right to be wanted.
If you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?
I do not regret the choice I made to terminate. I am a responsible woman.
I have a right to vote. I have a right to chose what happens to my body.
Informed women are in the best position to know what is best for them re abortion.
A woman has a right to decide about her body.
Current laws are out of step with society.
Governments shouldn't have the power to dictate a woman's control over her body.
Protect women's quality of life.
Abortion is every woman's right.
Unwanted pregnancies mean unwanted children which often results in life-long psychological damage.
This issue has personally affected our family. It's never a black/white issue - all women should have a legal right to choose.
I believe that abortion should be an issue for the woman concerned and others closely involved with her - nobody else. I deeply resent the fear campaign conducted by the Catholic Church and others.
In order to have a fulfilling life, every child should be wanted. Let women take care of the moral decisions themselves.
Women should have the right to choose over their own biological functions.
Women largely have the consequences of unwanted pregnancy, let them decide!
I very strongly believe that a woman ought to have the right to legally choose to have an abortion performed.
It should always be a woman's right to control her body not the state.
In an age where women can choose pregnancy or not via contraception, we should be able to terminate pregnancy via abortion when contraception has failed or not been available.
It is every woman’s right to decide on whether or not she wants a child. No one else.
My mother used to nurse seriously ill young women operated on by backyard abortionists. Many died.
I raised a child by choice. That was hard enough in itself. Children have to be cherished.
I don't want young women today to go through the trauma I suffered when faced with unwanted pregnancy.
Those that don't believe in abortion don’t have to have one, but don't try to impose your beliefs on me and other women.
This is a choice all women should be free to make.
This is not a decision someone else can or should make for me.
Abortion is a fact of life, by making it legal we make it safe.
Nobody else has the right to make another persons decision for them.
The alternative is not a humane option. The majority of women want choice - please represent our lack of parliamentary representation adequately.
Do not let a minority group dictate to the majority. Individual choice must prevail.
Because the woman carries it for 9 months and usually has the responsibility to look after it and care for it.
I am 87 years of age - so during my life have seen the result of backyard abortions - awful! So, well counselled, free to choose abortions please!
It wouldn't be an easy decision to make but there has to be the option and supported in the choice.
Termination is never an easy choice but a woman should have the right to be able to make that choice and be supported by the law.
I hope never to have an abortion, it is the absolute last resort. But if it is necessary, I need it to be available and acceptable.
100 years since women gained the right to vote, but still our rights are not fully recognised. My body-my right.
Because it is every woman's right!!!!
Every woman has the right to choose what to do with their bodies.
My body. My decision. Don't push abortion underground. Free, safe, rare.
Everyone should be able to decide for themselves what happens to their body.
I have rights over my body that on-one should be able to take away. All women deserve this right to be protected.
I was a nurse in the 1940's and saw the results of backyard abortions, mostly fatal.
Remove all traces of abortion from the criminal code - my body, my choice. No one else’s!
Child bearing makes massive demands on a woman's life, affecting physical and emotional health. The consequences for an unwanted child can be horrendous.
Those who decide abortion is appropriate should be free to accept this option without stigma. The law needs to lead the way to the removal of prejudice.
My body: my right. A woman's body and all its functions/productions while still internal are hers to control exclusively. Please respect this.
Tell those that oppose abortion to raise the unwanted child.
No body has the choice on how to handle my body except me.
Women have the right to make informed decisions regarding abortion.
My work in counter-terrorism training would not have been possible if I’d not had access to a safe abortion when I was an undergraduate. But why to I feel ashamed of my choice? Because the law is against me.
I never faced the choice of abortion, I was fortunate to have 3 healthy planned children. Every child should be wanted, no woman should have to bear an unwanted child. It should be her choice under Option C.
Please respect my human rights to space my family and for my son and daughter to also do so: Model C
A change of law is overdue. Access to appropriate healthcare and relevant choice are a human right.
Every child should be a wanted child- let women control their bodies and families.
In these difficult situations a woman deserves the right to make her own moral and ethical decision.
Model C is the only option that finally makes my body, my future, my choice.
End the legal dictatorship over our bodies please let us choose.
Model C is the only option which recognises my reproductive rights and freedoms are mine alone, not a doctor or an MP.
Abortion should be regulated the same way as every other medical procedure.
Every woman is entitled to make their own choice to have an abortion or not.
No medical, state or church paternalism. If women have the final choice and say, then the right decisions will be made. Vote for Model C!
A woman is the best judge of whether she will be a good mother and should have the choice.
Women's choice is a human right - not the discretion of government.
It is the duty of government to ensure human rights are addressed in a humane, fair and equitable manner.
Abortion is every woman's right so let it be.
Women should have the right to choose what happens with their bodies and lives.
Protecting women's reproductive health makes sense.
Please listen to the thousands that have been before, and the thousands yet to come. We deserve sovereignty over our bodies. That is the only way forward.
Women's rights are violated if they don't have control over their own bodies and decisions.
My decision to have an abortion was hard enough without also knowing that it was a crime! Decriminalise abortion!
Please don't make criminals out of women making difficult choices.
I believe that only person who has the right to decide whether an abortion is necessary is the women who is pregnant.
Please help to make a difficult decision a decriminalised one.
The decision is a hard one - not taken lightly by anyone, but the ability to make the hard choice cannot be withdrawn.
With current state of family breakdown and mental health of women, spouses and children, it's critical we have the right to this decision.
Make it FAIR!
Women have to bear and raise children, sometimes they can't do this, so they must have a choice.
Because it is no-one's right to push their opinions on someone else.
No law should make a child that is not wanted.
Freedom, Equality, Self-determination for women.
Enough is enough, surely in this day and age women have control over their own bodies. It should not be a matter for lawmakers.
Choice is a basic human right.
Only a woman can decide if she is capable of giving the quality of life a child needs in the world.
It’s not fair to make decisions for someone else.
No-one can tell a women what she can and can't do with her own body!
Women's right can only be achieved through leadership and challenging dysfunctional frameworks and laws.
My name is Nicolle. I am aged 32 and live with my husband Brad and my 2 beautiful children - Emily who is 4 and Lachlan who is 3.
This debate is one that is particularly close to my heart as in May 2006 we had to make a decision at 20 weeks whether to terminate our third pregnancy.
In late 2005 I had a tubal ligation to prevent any further pregnancies so as to preserve a fragile vertebrae. In January 2006, I found out I was pregnant.
Over the next few months my husband, my kids and I got used to the fact that we were going to have baby number 3.
The 12-week ultrasound went past with no problems so we did up the nursery, bought a bigger car and picked out names.
In April 2006 I went for my routine 19-week ultrasound. I was expecting that I was going to find out if it was a healthy boy or a girl but my dreams were shattered when we learned that our baby girl - Zara - had hyperplastic left heart syndrome with a double outlet right ventricle and polycystic kidneys. The lady doing the ultrasound told us "there is no chance for babies like this". These words will forever echo in my mind. We were referred to a cardiologist, and our obstetrician suggested an amnio to see if the problem was genetic. The doctor advised us that because my pregnancy was so far along if I wanted the amnio results back in time to terminate I had to pay an urgency fee of around $700.
We went home and got on the internet and then met with cardiologist. We found out there was hope, slim hope, but hope. If we moved closer to a specialist hospital we could have 3 lots of surgery over 3 years that would give our little girl an 80% chance of living a happy healthy life like any other child. This was too good of a chance not to take it. We copped criticism from friends and family who thought we were being inhumane and we made the wrong choice, but I would take those odds any day, BUT that is my choice and no-one else's.
The next 2 days were like a fairy tale, I had 20 weeks to prepare for my little girl, my sick little girl to be born. But three days later - at 19 weeks pregnancy and 6 days - our ob called and said he needed to see us urgently. We had forgotten about the amnio. We saw him at 8.00 pm that night and he advised us our little girl had velo-cardial facial syndrome aka De George syndrome or sphrintzen syndrome and this was very rare. He said that our little girl, on top of her heart and kidney issues, could have a number of other issues such as cleft palette, immune deficiency, muscle problems, no uterus, no anus, hearing problems, learning difficulties, sight issues etc: all of which would impact on her quality of life if in fact she survived to be born.
Then the big whammy hit me ... whatever decision we made had to be made then and there as I was 19 weeks and 6 days and after 20 weeks, the choice would be taken out of my hands. A hospital committee would decide whether I could have a termination or not.
So I had to make a decision without talking to my GP or my mum or my kids. The three of us discussed it but in the end chose a dignified end for Zara. The next day she was born by C Section.
This decision was not a hard decision, but to have been put in a position where we had to make it was the hardest thing we ever faced.
The thing that has hurt the most have been the comments from people afterwards about "how strong we were to do something like that" or "I could never have made that choice" or "glad it was you not me I think I would have taken the other odds". How do they know what they would or wouldn't have done? And anyway, it wasn't about them. It was OUR decision.
This is a decision that can and should only be made by the parents of the baby. No one carries a baby for 20 weeks and makes a decision like this without justification or a lot of consideration. The problem is that with a strict deadline of 20 weeks couples may not be able to give it adequate consideration.
What if we could not have afforded the urgency fee? What if my ob hadn't read the results until the next day? What if my ultrasound was a day later? What if the ultrasound place wasn't switched on enough to ask for an amnio so quickly? What if ... what if ... what if? There are too many anomalies to have a strict 20 week cut off ... if my cards had not fallen the way they did and if I didn't get my results when I did, I would not have been able to make the decision I did when I did. I would have been FORCED to carry Zara, knowing her conditions were incompatible with life. Who has the right to tell me I MUST carry my baby knowing what I knew.
If Zara had survived until term and she was born, I had the immediate right to choose "no further medical treatment". How is that different to when I am pregnant with her, I am her mother and I am her guardian and I have the right to make decisions, medical or otherwise, on her behalf.
Sometimes you are not aware of conditions until later in a pregnancy and sometimes further testing and second opinions are needed. Who sets the time frames and what is taken into account when 20-week time frames are set?
My name is Jane. I’m a sole a parent and I have 3 daughters aged 10, 6 and 4.
In 1999, I fell pregnant with my second child.
I had a 12-week ultrasound and all appeared to be fine. At 16 weeks I had an amnio. The results showed a heart abnormality. The left side of my baby’s heart was much smaller than the right side.
Given the outcome, the doctor suggested I had an ultrasound in the presence of a pediatric cardiologist.
Two weeks later we met with the pediatric cardiologist, but unfortunately the diagnosis was confirmed.
The cardiologist spoke to me about some of the possible outcomes of an abnormality such as this, but he couldn’t really give me a definite answer as to how sick the baby was going be, and the prognosis. So I went and researched it by myself. What I found wasn’t good.
My partner and I decided to have a termination at 18 weeks.
It was definitely the best decision for our family at the time: for our eldest daughter and for us.
Yet, without a doubt, it was a terribly traumatic decision to make.
For anyone who thinks that the decision to terminate a pregnancy at this stage is easy, they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.
I still very clearly remember the day when I found out I was pregnant.
I was 23 and had recently separated from Tom who I had been living with for a year.
I took one look at the pregnancy test and was in shock, but I knew that I didn't want to continue with the pregnancy.
I had certain ideals in my mind of what kind of a life I wanted to provide for my child, and what kind of mother I wanted to be.
After sitting down and analysing my situation at the time, it was obvious that I was far from meeting those.
I also knew that if I was going to have a child with Tom then we would need to trust and commit to each other. But I knew I couldn't rely on him. To add to this, he would never have been my first pick as the father of my child.
I spoke to Tom about the pregnancy. He made it clear he preferred me not to go ahead with it, but he said he'd support whatever decision I made.
After talking it through with a close friend, I decided to have an abortion.
I rang a clinic nearby and booked in to have a termination the next week. I was 8 weeks pregnant.
The doctor and nursing staff at the clinic were lovely and went out of their way to ensure that I understood everything to do with the procedure. They also asked me why I wanted a termination, discussed my decision with me at length and explained that I could change my mind at any time. But I was confident I was making the best decision for me at the time.
Even today I still feel I made the right decision.
The recent debate on abortion has brought back a lot of memories for me and it has also made me stop and reflect on the tragic fact that abortion is still a crime in Victoria.
I don't feel I committed a crime. What I did was exercised my right to decide when I would become a mother by undertaking a common medical procedure performed by an experienced doctor.
Only a handful of people know that I have had a termination. This is firstly because it is a very personal decision but also because I think there's probably still a real stigma attached to it in society - which isn't at all helped by the law.
Having a look at the media on the issue to date, I haven't really heard many women's voices, just a lot of politicians (mainly men) airing their own views about what is right and what isn't.
As a Victorian woman who very capably made the decision to have a termination, I strongly believe that abortion should be removed from the Crimes Act. If a woman decides to have an abortion, it's no one's business but hers and her doctor's and anyone else she decides to tell.
The decision itself is difficult enough without everyone involved looking nervous and writing answers on forms so no one goes to gaol.