EVERYONE can benefit from an open debate on the legal status of abortion in Tasmania, a youth health service provider has said.
The Link Youth Health Service chief executive David Perez said people from young women to health workers were confused about Tasmania's existing abortion laws.
Mr Perez said he hoped the debate about a private members Bill to decriminalise abortion, announced by Health Minister Michelle O'Byrne on Friday, would encourage people to read the Criminal Code provisions as well as the new proposal.
"I think a lot of Tasmanians would be surprised if they looked at the legislation," Mr Perez said.
"Even among professionals in the human services and health sectors there is confusion about exactly what the legal restrictions are."
Mr Perez, who consulted with Ms O'Byrne on the Bill, said decriminalisation would reduce the uncertainty for doctors and may mean more were willing to offer the service.
"The person needs to be given all the options that are actually available," he said.
"In the end, it's going to be a personal choice."
Under existing law, abortion is a crime but may be legally justified at any time if two doctors certify in writing that continuing the pregnancy constitutes a greater risk to the woman's mental or physical health than terminating it would, and the woman has given her informed consent.
The proposed Reproductive Health Bill would remove abortion from the Criminal Code, allow unqualified access up to 24-weeks gestation, and allow access after 24-weeks if two doctors have certified in writing that continuing the pregnancy poses a greater risk to the woman's physical or mental health and if the woman has given informed consent.
Human Life Protection Society president Peter Imlach said the proposed legislation was a "disgrace."
"The government is promoting abortion," Mr Imlach said.
Mr Imlach said he had not read the proposed legislation, but was concerned the inclusion of access zones, which will outlaw anti-abortion protests or harassment within 150 metres of a clinic.
He said he was also concerned about a requirement that doctors who have a conscientious objection to abortion state that objection and refer the patient on to another doctor, who is not a conscientious objector.