Comment on the Cairns case

The most important outcome of the Cairns abortion trial (involving Teagan Leach and Sergie Brennan) was the Crown’s powerful restatement of principle in Queensland law, that it is prohibited for adults to take the life of their unborn baby unless compelled to do so because of serious risk to the life or health of the woman.  As the Crown prosecutor, Michael Byrne, reminded the jury, abortion is “illegal unless the pregnancy posed a threat to the woman's life or her physical or mental health” and is not permitted for reasons of “lifestyle”.

In this comment, he was restating the earlier ruling of Judge McGuire that this exception for “serious risk” to the woman is “a humane doctrine devised for humanitarian purposes, but it cannot be made the excuse for every inconvenient conception.”

In the Cairns case, the accused couple was found to be not guilty of violating this principle — but the principle remains.