Women's Groups 2013 - Abortion Law Repeal Association/Association for the Legal Right to Abortion (ALRA)

Abortion Law Repeal Association/Association for the Legal Right to Abortion (ALRA)

Purpose of the group

The group was established to lobby for the repeal of abortion laws in Western Australia. In 1967, the UK passed historic legislation that made abortion legal in certain circumstances. In 1968, a reform bill similchrar to the UK legislation was introduced into WA Parliament but was defeated. The ALRA was established in WA soon after with considerable public support.

When feminists joined the ALRA in the early-to-mid-1970s the emphasis shifted to women’s reproductive rights. ALRA members lobbied politicians through letter writing campaigns and responded to many requests to speak at schools, colleges and clubs. As early as 1981, the group tried to raise awareness about female genital mutilation practices around the world.

The ALRA also established a phone information service in 1971, initially in the homes of volunteer counsellors. Later, the Abortion Information Service was separated from the ALRA and transferred to the Family Planning Association (FPWA) in 1989. Since then, there have been continuing links between the FPWA and ALRA.

More recently, the ALRA lobbied Sensis (White and Yellow Pages) to clarify its listings for pregnancy counselling services because many women unknowingly contacted anti-abortion agencies.

Also in recent years, ALRA members lobbied to change laws to allow RU486 (medical abortion drug mifepristone) to be made available under the Therapeutic Goods Administration instead of requiring the Federal Health Minister’s consent.

Time period

The ALRA was established in 1967 and ceased in 2008. The organisation changed its name in early 1989 from the Abortion Law Repeal Association Inc to the Association for the Legal Right to Abortion. An increasing number of people thought abortion was already legal because of its ready availability at two clinics and King Edward Memorial Hospital. This caused confusion about what the ALRA stood for—some believed the group wanted to repeal the laws that allowed abortion.

Key achievements

The primary aim of the group was achieved on 26 May 1998 when the Acts Amendment (Abortion) Act 1998 was eventually passed after two months of active public debate and numerous amendments to the original proposal. This Act amended the Health Act 1911 and The Criminal Code to make it lawful for a medical practitioner to perform an abortion as long as the women concerned had given ‘informed consent’. The ALRA played an important role in the law reform process.

An early ALRA achievement was establishing a counselling service to advise women on abortion options. The ALRA also published a book that became known as ‘The Yellow Book’ after it was distributed to all WA high schools and universities. Many orders from overseas were also received. A newsletter was published several times a year and brochures were distributed widely.

In 1994, members Linda Savage-Davis and Terri-Ann White invited women to share their memories for the book ‘Stories of our lives—women’s experiences of abortion’. Funded by the Megan Sassi bequest, it records the trials and pain women endured and has left a valuable reminder of how women suffer when they don’t have access to legal abortion.

Key people and positions in the group

  • Denise and Ralph White, Henny and John Newmeyer and Liz Smith were founders (a handful of men were ALRA members).
  • Presidents included Robyn Murphy (1990–1994) and Margot Boetcher (1995–2008).
  • David Anderson was vice-president and Dorothy Anderson was treasurer (2008).
  • Ruth Greble held various positions including vice-president while Barbara Buick held various positions.
  • Other significant members included Megan Sassi, Diana Warnock, Judy Straton, Cheryl Davenport, Janet Pine, Sandra Roe, Mary Gadsden, Dorothy Anderson, Judith Cross, Anthea Taylor, Ann Taylor and Cait Calcutt.


  • Information provided by Yvonne Henderson and Margot Boetcher.
  • Boetcher, Margot. 2008. Unpublished speech to FPWA in October 2008. (ALRA and abortion in Western Australia).

Article Index
Women's Groups 2013
Abortion Law Repeal Association/Association for the Legal Right to Abortion (ALRA)
American Women's Club of Perth (AWC)
Association of Civilian Widows of WA Inc
Australian College of Midwives WA Branch (ACM)
Australian Local Government Women’s Association (ALGWA)
Beta Sigma Phi
Business and Professional Women Western Australia (BPW)
Catholic Women’s League of Western Australia (Inc)
Chrysalis House Women's Refuge
Cine-Matrix: Women in Film and Television WA
Cockburn Women’s Peace Camp
Combined Equal Pay Committee/WA Council for Equal Pay and Opportunity
Community Midwifery WA
Country Women’s Association (CWA)
Domestic Violence Action Group (Geraldton)
Emily’s List
Equal Opportunity Law Reform Coalition
Fremantle Women’s Health Centre (FWHC)
Girl Guides WA
Graduate Women Western Australia (GWWA)/Australian Federation of University Women (AFUW) Western Australia
Grapevine/Perth Wimmin’s Collective
Gretel Club of Perth (Inc)
Harvest Guild
Incest Survivors Association (Inc.)
Inner Wheel Australia
Inside Out Project
Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre
Kalgoorlie Auxiliary of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Karrakatta Club
Labor Women’s Association
Lespar Library
Living Child Inc.—Safe Village Births
Lutheran Women WA
Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre
Mining Mums
Modern Women's Club
Mothers’ Union Australia
Movement for the Ordination of Women
Muslim Women’s Support Centre of WA (Inc)
National Council of Women of Western Australia (previously known as West Australian National Council of Women and Western Australian National Council of Women)
National Council of Jewish Women of Australia—WA section (NCJWA)
Nintirri Centre
Older Women’s Network (OWN WA)
Penguin Club
Perth Ionian Club
Polyhymnia Reading Group
Rape Crisis Line
Rural Remote Regional Women’s Network (RRR)
Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC)
Sibyl/University of Western Australia Student Guild Women’s Collective
Society of Women Writers WA
Soroptimist International of Western Australia
Starick Services Inc
Status of Women Committee WA—Australian Labor Party
Tradeswomen on the Move
UN Women Australia (formerly UNIFEM Australia)—Perth Chapter Young UN Women Perth Chapter
Union of Australian Women—WA Branch
V.I.E.W. Western Australia
West Australian Women’s Society of Fine Arts and Crafts
War Widows’ Guild
Warrawee Women’s Refuge
Women’s Electoral Lobby (WEL)
West Australian Housewives’ Association (Inc)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Women in Media
Women’s Information Referral Exchange (WIRE)
Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) of Western Australia
Women in Education Coalition
Women in Mining WA (WIMWA)
Women in Sailing (WIS)
Women in Sport Committee of the Western Australian Sports Council
Women in Technology WA (Inc) (WiTWA)
Women Lawyers of Western Australia (Inc) (WLWA)
Women with Disabilities WA Inc (WWDWA)
Women’s Action Alliance (WAA)
Women’s Advisory Council (WAC)
Women’s Broadcasting Cooperative
Women’s Committee of State School Teachers’ Union WA Executive
Women's Committee of the Waterside Workers Federation
Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services (WA)/Women’s Refuge Group of WA (WRG)
Women’s Health and Family Services/Women’s Health Care House/Perth Women’s Centre/Women’s Health Service
Women’s Information Service (WIS)
Women’s Interest Network
Women in Engineering WA (WIE WA)
Women’s International Zionist Organisation (WIZO)
Women’s Liberation
Women’s Service Guilds
Women’s Studies Group
Yanay Yanma
YWCA of Perth
Zonta International
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