New South Wales is set to decriminalise abortion with the introduction of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 to Parliament this week by independent MP Alex Greenwich. The aim is to repeal legislation in the Crimes Act 1900, which lists abortion as an offence punishable by 10 years in prison, and offer a framework for legal abortions. The new bill is based on legislation passed in Queensland last year, and allows access to a termination of pregnancy in the first 22 weeks and a conscientious objection clause, which obliges doctors to refer patients to other medical practitioners. Health Minister Brad Hazzard and the Australian Medical Association support the bill, as well as “strong support” across parties and the crossbench. Greenwich said: “NSW is the only state to not have decriminalised abortion. Our bill ensures that women will have access to safe and legal abortions and ensures that doctors have the legal clarity that they have long sought.”
Australian swimmer Shayna Jack has revealed she tested positive for banned substance Ligandrol. Jack, 20, was forced to withdraw from the Australian squad ahead of the world championships in South Korea. She has maintained her innocence of deliberately doping, saying she was “in complete shock” when informed of the results, and that she had since learnt that Ligandrol could be found in contaminated supplements. Jack said she “did not and would not cheat” and that she will “continue to fight to clear my name”. Fellow swimmer Mack Horton commented on the news saying he was “disappointed” and “remains firm” in his stance against doping. Horton made headlines last week for refusing to share the podium at the world championships with Chinese swimmer Sun Yang, who he called a drug cheat. A number of Australian athletes came out in support of his anti-drug stance.
Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services could be required to produce Australian content similar to their free-to-air television network counterparts if reforms to digital services are introduced. Currently, the networks that licence radio spectrum from the government to broadcast to television audiences, must produce 55 per cent Australian programming during certain hours of the day. The federal government is considering the changes following the release of the digital platforms inquiry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last week. The inquiry targeted tech giants such as Google and Facebook, recommending changes to consumer data protections, market dominance by international corporations and greater support to public interest journalism.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture says WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would “be exposed to a real risk of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” if extradicted to the United States to face espionage charges. Law professor Nils Melzer said the United States government “intends to make an example of him” with excessive charges and jail time, but the US rejected the claims saying it “takes its obligations under international human rights laws very seriously” and that Assange would receive a fair trial.
Voice actor Russi Taylor, the voice of The Simpsons character Martin Prince and Disney’s Minnie Mouse, has died aged 75. As well as Martin Prince, she also played German exchange student Uter, and Sherri and Terri on The Simpsons. She performed the voice of Minnie Mouse for more than 30 years.