LNP get conscience vote on Qld abortion

Laws to decriminalise abortion in Queensland have been given a major boost after the Liberal National Party opposition agreed to give its MPs a free vote on the issue.

The proposed bill would take abortion out of the criminal code and make it a health issue, allowing women to terminate pregnancies up to 22 weeks' gestation.

The Labor government was allowing its MPs to vote with their conscience on the laws, however the LNP opposition had yet to decide whether it would do the same.

After a two-hour meeting on Tuesday afternoon, LNP leader Deb Frecklington declined to face the media but issued a statement confirming her MPs would have a free vote.

"It has been a longstanding position of the LNP party room that matters about the creation or ending of life are treated as matters of conscience," she said.

Ms Frecklington said under the free vote, she would not be supporting the laws, promising to outline her reasons during the debate on the bill, to be held in state parliament next week.

Earlier on Tuesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the issue was an important test of Ms Frecklington's leadership.

"As a female leader myself I believe this is such a crucial issue for so many people across our state that a conscience vote should be granted," Ms Palaszczuk said.

The government will arrange for Queensland Health to give private briefings to any MP who requests one.

Because Labor had granted its MPs a conscience vote, it needed the LNP to do the same or the bill could have been at risk of failing, with some Labor MPs understood to be voting against it, and only two of the six-person crossbench voting for it.

Daile Kelleher from pro-choice group Children by Choice said they were heartened that the LNP granting a conscience vote meant the laws now seemed to have the numbers to pass.

"Abortion law reform is not a partisan matter. Regardless of where a woman lives in Queensland, or who their local MP is, their life and access to healthcare will be positively affected should this bill pass," she said.

Pro-life group Cherish Life welcomed the news Ms Frecklington would vote against the legislation.

"While the LNP have allowed their members a conscience vote, we are hopeful that all LNP MPs will use their conscience vote to oppose this brutal abortion-to-birth bill," the organisation said in a statement.

Under the changes, abortion would be allowed after 22 weeks with the approval of two separate doctors.

They would also enforce safe zones around clinics and medical facilities offering the procedure to stop staff and patients being harassed by anti-abortion activists.

Australian Associated Press