Members of NSW's lower house erupted into cheers as a bill to decriminalise abortion passed its first hurdle after three days of lengthy and passionate debate.
The private member's bill to remove abortion from the NSW criminal code passed the lower house late on Thursday night after three long days of debate and several amendments.
MPs voted in favour of the bill 59 to 31, with many cheering and clapping after the bill was passed.
Sydney independent MP Alex Greenwich, who introduced the bill, said on Twitter after the vote the lower house had made history.
However, proponents of the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 face further hurdles as it will now be sent to the upper house for consideration.
The bill is fiercely opposed by anti-abortion and religious groups.
Sydney's Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher said he is "deeply saddened" the bill passed the lower house and described it as "abhorrent".
"If a civilisation is to be judged by how it treats its weakest members, New South Wales failed spectacularly today," the Archbishop said in a statement on Thursday night.
"I urge the Members of the Legislative Council (upper house) to vote against this abhorrent bill."
Health Minister Brad Hazzard, one of the 15 co-sponsors of the bill, urged his colleagues to support the draft laws when he kicked off debate on Tuesday.
Greens MP Jenny Leong, another co-sponsor, said she was outraged the bill had taken so long and offended that so many men believed "that they have the right to make laws that dictate what we do with our bodies"
But several MPs raised concerns over late-term abortions and a provision relating to conscientious objection by medical practitioners, as well as the amount of time given to consult on the bill.
Australian Associated Press