The overturning of the right of a woman to have an abortion in the United States is a backward step for the country, deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley believes.
Protests continued outside the US Supreme Court in Washington where the half-century-old Roe v Wade precedent that recognised women’s constitutional right to an abortion was overturned.
Ms Ley says these issues should be approached with sensitivity and respect.
“This has been a step backwards for women in the US,” she told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.
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“I’m very discomforted by anything that puts a personal and sensitive issue that a woman has to grapple with in many instances, or a family has to grapple with, in the same sentence as criminal.”
She also agreed with former US president Bill Clinton that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”.
Government frontbencher Jason Clare said he shared the anger, frustration and grief people are experiencing and talking about in the US and right across the world at the moment.
“Thank god we are a country here in Australia where abortion is not an issue that divides the Labor Party and Liberal Party,” Mr Clare told Sky News.
“I’m thinking at the moment for the women who live in some of these states that are basically being told today that if you want to have an abortion then get on a bus and travel a couple of hundred kilometres.”
Incoming Victorian Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas said ensuring equal access to health services, including for reproductive purposes, in regional areas was a priority in her new role and echoed the words of Ms Ley.
“The US has taken a great, big step backwards in terms of the rights of women over their own bodies and their own destiny,” she told reporters in Frankston.
Victoria made it illegal for anti-abortion protesters to come within 150 metres of health and fertility clinics in 2016, and Premier Daniel Andrews said women deserved to feel safe in such vulnerable circumstances.
“These are matters between a woman and her doctor, and that’s the way they should stay,” he said.
The US court ruling is expected to see nearly half the states either ban abortion or consider it.