Calls for law reform after abortion case

Pro-choice advocates have welcomed the acquittal of a Cairns couple charged over a home abortion and have called on the Queensland Government to reform the law.

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A Cairns jury on Thursday took less than an hour to find Tegan Simone Leach, 21, and her partner Sergie Brennan not guilty of charges of procuring an abortion and supplying drugs to procure an abortion following a three-day trial.

The verdict was greeted with cheers and applause from the public gallery while a teary Ms Leach hugged her legal team and family members.

Pro-choice campaigner Dr Caroline De Costa said she was delighted with the jury’s verdict and called on the Queensland parliament to reform the law so no-one is ever charged with the offence again.

“This sends a very strong message about what the people of Queensland feel about the abortion laws,” she told reporters outside court.

“This law was written in 1899, it is no longer relevant to the practice of abortion in 2010 or what the general pubic think.”

However, Cherish Life Queensland president Teresa Martin said the group would lobby MPs to maintain the current law.

She said pregnant women who did not want to keep their child should be aware they had other options such as adoption.

“We don’t believe that abortion ever helps a situation, it does harm, it harms physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally,” she said.

Premier Anna Bligh, who has said she is in favour of reforming the law, has refused to allow a private member’s bill on the matter because she does not believe it has the support of a majority of MPs.

The couple were charged after police found empty blister packets of abortion drugs RU486 and Misoprostol during a search of their home on an unrelated matter in February last year.

Under Queensland law, abortion is illegal except to protect the mother’s life or her physical or mental wellbeing.

RU486 and Misoprostol are legally available in Queensland but their use is heavily restricted.

The couple are the first ever to be charged with the offence in Queensland.