Hundreds rally in NSW over abortion bill

A debate on the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW is now likely to go ahead next week.
A debate on the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW is now likely to go ahead next week.

Hundreds of supporters of a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW have descended on state parliament with many holding signs stating "Our body, our choice" and "No uterus, no opinion".

Darelle Duncan was one of those rallying on Wednesday in favour of the Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill, which she says will give women the right to control their own lives.

Almost 50 years ago, a then 22-year-old Ms Duncan was unable to access an abortion, and her baby was later forcibly removed for adoption.

"I understand totally what it means to be in a position where you are forced into a pregnancy," Ms Duncan told AAP.

"It changed my life irrevocably. It's a trauma that one never gets over."

The private member's bill - due to be introduced in the lower house on Thursday - allows for terminations up to 22 weeks and later if two doctors "consider that, in all the circumstances, the termination should be performed".

Doctors will have the right to conscientiously object to performing abortions but must refer patients to another health practitioner who can provide the service.

Ms Duncan says back in 1971 she lacked "any kind of power" over her situation.

"Everything was just happening to me whereas this (bill) gives women the right to control their lives," she said on Wednesday.

Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich, who'll introduce the bill, addressed the large crowd along with several other MPs.

"NSW is a state that has a female premier, a female leader of the opposition and a female governor and it is time that women had autonomy over their own reproductive rights in NSW," Mr Greenwich said.

Caroline Shephard attended the rally with her four-month-old son. She said having a child should be "a beautiful thing and not some sort of punishment inflicted by ... government".

"Bringing a human being into the world is a huge commitment and you want to do it with 100 per cent of your heart and finances and mental health and everything else at your disposal," Ms Shephard told AAP.

"Being forced to continue a pregnancy is a dreadful thing to inflict upon a woman, and being forced to have an unsafe abortion, a backyard abortion, is something that nobody ever wants to go back to."

The bill was originally scheduled to be debated this week but conservative MPs worked behind the scenes to delay its passage. Debate is now set to start on Tuesday next week.

The NSW Pro-Choice Alliance condemned the delay.

"What we are witnessing now is a small group of MPs who disagree with the 70 per cent of Australians who support decriminalisation," alliance chair Wendy McCarthy said in a statement on Wednesday.

"This small group are ignoring most voters by trying to delay NSW joining the rest of Australia in modernising its abortion laws."

Anti-abortion activists and church groups have slammed the "bad bill" and accused the state coalition government of trying to rush it through parliament.

Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher, moderator of the NSW Presbyterian Church Richard Keith and upper house MP Reverend Fred Nile are all opposed to the bill.

Despite the backlash, it's believed the bill has wide cross-party MP support at Macquarie Street.

Australian Associated Press