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Mark McGowan in security scare after University of WA student targets him over abortion at press conference

A University of Western Australia student gate crashed a press conference being held by Premier Mark McGowan and had to be ushered away by his security team as she demanded to know whether abortion would be made free across the State.

The female student approached Mr McGowan as he was preparing to answer questions from reporters after announcing a contract had been awarded for the installation of 98 electric vehicle chargers as part of WA’s electric highway.

“I’m a student here at UWA and I just wanted to know if you were planning to make abortion free in WA,” the young woman said as she walked towards Mr McGowan.

The Premier’s minders immediately jumped into action, getting between the woman and Mr McGowan and attempting to move her away from the gathered media.

Protestor lead away from Premier Mark McGowan announcing the latest milestone in the EV charging network project.
Camera IconSecurity staff swoop on the UWA activist. Credit: Andrew Ritchie/The West Australian

She asked one of Mr McGowan’s male bodyguards why he had placed his hands on her but seemed to accept the explanation when told he was part of the Premier’s personal security team.

“I just, I don’t understand why Mr McGowan can’t just answer my question,” she shouted as she was moved away.

“I’m just a student at UWA and I want to know if abortion will be made free?”

Mr McGowan remained silent throughout the encounter, but later addressed the protester’s question — after she had been moved well away from the site of the press conference — when it was repeated by the media.

Protestor lead away from Premier Mark McGowan announcing the latest milestone in the EV charging network project.
Camera IconThe woman targeted the Premier mid-press conference. Credit: Andrew Ritchie/The West Australian

“We’re reviewing the law in relation to abortion reform as to whether or not further reforms need to be put in place to make it nationally consistent with other states,” the Premier said.

“You may not know but I was in the Parliament when abortion was made legal in Western Australia. I’m one of the few members still left from that period and I voted in favour of it.”

Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson in June revealed work was underway to modernise WA’s abortion laws, which have been described as among the most oppressive in Australia.

“Cost is an issue and… women do fly interstate to access abortions past actually about 15 weeks. There are only two private providers and often their hours are limited,” she said.

Abortions cost vary from state to state and can run into hundreds of dollars depending on the medications or surgical procedures required.

Protestor lead away from Premier Mark McGowan announcing the latest milestone in the EV charging network project.
Camera IconThe woman was led away by security staff. Credit: Andrew Ritchie/The West Australian

In WA, women who seek an abortion after 20 weeks must have their request reviewed by an “ethics panel” consisting of six medical practitioners, two of whom must agree the mother or foetus has a severe medical condition that justifies the procedure.’

Mr McGowan said he understood the review of WA’s abortion regime would be completed by the end of the year.

“It’s obviously come into more focus recently with the Supreme Court decision in America and we’re looking at what we need to do to make it more nationally consistent and if there are anomalies that make it difficult for women in certain circumstances,” he said.

“They’re the sorts of things we’re looking at changing and repairing.”

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