From the late 1970s, several clinics began to open in northern New South Wales and eventually in the Brisbane, Rockhampton and Townsville area. These offered more opportunities for women. In 1984, through the efforts of many supporters, Children by Choice purchased premises in Windsor, in central Brisbane. However, this positive increase in services sparked renewed political and media interest in the subject of abortion in the 1980s. Since at least the 1980s, opinion polls have shown that a majority of Australians support abortion rights and that support for abortion is growing. While anti-abortion violence is rare in Australia, anti-abortion activists have used tactics such as “verbal abuse, threats and obstruction of entry” outside abortion clinics.  In response, all jurisdictions have passed laws prohibiting protesters from harassing visitors and staff within a specific radius of abortion clinics, starting with Tasmania in 2013 and finally Western Australia in 2021. In 1985, Queensland Police launched Operation Lost Cause, raiding two abortion clinics, seizing thousands of patient records, and prosecuting an abortion provider for violating the penal code.   The abortion provider was found not guilty, and his case led to McGuire, which clarified the circumstances under which abortion was legal.  Opponents of the bill called the development disastrous and said they were willing to fight MPs who voted for it.
“The fight will continue,” an anti-abortion group, Cherish Life, told supporters after the vote. “The unborn need us more than ever.” Anti-abortion groups include Cherish Life Queensland and Project 139.  Project 139 has been demonstrated outside of several abortion clinics in Brisbane.  The Catholic Church actively opposes the reduction of abortion restrictions, which increases, among other things, the risk of sex-selective abortions.  The Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge, sent an email to parents of Catholic students opposing the abortion law.  There does not appear to be a logical basis for limiting the honest and reasonable expectation of such a risk to the mother`s mental health to the period of pregnancy alone. Having recognised the relevance of other economic or social reasons which may lead to such a conviction, it is illogical to exclude as a relevant factor the possibility that the patient`s mental state may be threatened after the birth of the child, for example because of the economic and social circumstances in which she is likely to find herself. Combined with an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy, such considerations would most likely result in a risk to the mother`s mental health after the birth of the child, if these circumstances were likely to wreak havoc. (88) Newman J. did not address this central and obvious issue. Instead, he surprised everyone – including defendants who had not argued the defence of illegality – by using a reinterpretation of New South Wales` provisions criminalising illegal abortion in order to deny damages to the plaintiff. (83) One of the consequences of Justice Newman`s approach was therefore widespread doubt and speculation in New South Wales as to exactly when an abortion would be legal.
What was certain was that his reinterpretation and application of the relevant law was much stricter than those proposed by Levine DCJ two decades earlier. A second, less discussed consequence of Justice Newman`s approach was that no woman suing health care providers for injuries inflicted during a negligent abortion could receive compensation unless they could prove that the abortion was performed lawfully following Justice Newman`s strict but ill-defined test. Since colonization, abortion in Australia has always been regulated by state (formerly colonial) laws.  By the end of the 19th century, each colony had passed the Imperial Offences Against the Person Act 1861, itself derived from the English laws of 1837, 1828 and 1803 that made abortion illegal in all circumstances. Since then, abortion law has evolved in every state through case law and legislative changes. While the law allows the doctor to take into account the burden of raising the child after birth on the mother`s health, it has taken a big step towards allowing abortion on social grounds. (94) Macnaghten J.A.`s interpretation of the law therefore did not limit permitted abortions to those performed to save a woman`s life in the strict sense, i.e., in the sense of “immediate death”. (26) Its interpretation also allowed abortions performed in order to save a woman`s health from “ruin.” The wreckage has not been defined,(27) but there was little doubt that Macnaghten J.A.`s test required a very high level of health risk before an abortion could be justified. 28) The criterion limited permissible abortions to those intended to “save the life or preserve the longevity of the mother”.
(29) According to the jury, Mr. Bourne met this test and was acquitted of the charges against him. It would indeed be wrong to conclude that Bourne is a carte blanche.