Is America’s abortion legislation a war against women?

If it can happen there, can it happen anywhere?
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Terminating an unwanted pregnancy is a personal decision, but it’s a decision that is being potentially taken out of women’s own hands by lawmakers in the United States of America.

Alabama has passed the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country which must go before Supreme Court before coming into effect, and now the battle lines have been drawn.

In Tuesday night’s Dateline episode, Laura Murphy Oates, 2018 Walkley Young Journalist of the Year, reports from Alabama – the frontlines of one of the most epic battles for women’s rights in the US in recent times where she meets and talks to those involved on both sides of the argument.

Laura Murphy Oates, 2018 Walkley Young Journalist of the Year, reports from Alabama on America’s battle over abortion in Dateline’s America’s War On Abortion.

(Credit: SBS)

From the doctors who could face up to 99 years in jail for the performing abortions, to the pro-lifers using surprising tactics to persuade pregnant women not to terminate, Laura dives deep into the battle.

“One of the people who stood out most to me was a woman named Gloria who ran an abortion clinic in Alabama,” Laura tells Now To Love. “She said something that really stuck with me, and that was that if it could happen in the US it could happen anywhere.

“Gloria did not think abortion would ever become illegal, and now she’s looking at that happening in her lifetime.”

WATCH: Is America’s abortion legislation a war against women? Continues after video …

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While regulations vary from state to state and territory, right now Australian women can pretty easily access an abortion should they need to. Early-term surgical abortions are generally available around Australia for those women who seek them.

In Australia abortion is legal, and the procedure here is partially funded under Medicare or by private healthcare insurers.

So should we be worried about that changing here? Could we be seeing what Gloria is seeing happening in her home town?

“If this is a right that you care about, you need to be informed and pay attention,” says Laura.

Could Australia’s abortion legislation change too?

(Credit: SBS)

It’s not all bad in America though.

While filming America’s War On Abortion Laura also travels to Illinois, a state moving in the opposite direction to Alabama by passing legislation to bolster abortion rights.

Clinics there are already seeing a flood of women crossing state lines to access legal abortions.

But still the women Laura spoke too are worried. One young woman, Elizabeth voiced her concerns over the legalities of travelling. Could she be arrested for travelling interstate to have the procedure if it really does become illegal?

“I’ve spent time researching the law to see if I would actually catch a felony charge if I needed an abortion,” she tells Laura. “But I think what it boils down to is that I don’t get to decide my future.”

If a service that has always been accessible gets taken away, what other rights could go backwards too?

There’s no doubt this contentious issue will be the hot topic of the 2020 presidential election.

America’s War On Abortion airs on SBS Dateline at 9:30pm Tuesday 18th June.

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