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Australian Abortion Law and Practice

Legislation

Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018

Abortion is legal in Queensland and available on request as a health service up until 22 weeks gestation. Thereafter the involved medical practitioner must consult another medical practitioner who also considers that, in all the circumstances, the termination should be performed.

A registered health practitioner with conscientious objection must disclose the objection to the person and refer on to a practitioner or service who, in the first belief, can provide the requested service and does not also have a conscientious objection.

150m safe access zones are set around termination services.

For detailed information on Queensland abortion law see our Queensland abortion law page.

Availability

Private clinics in Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns. GPs in metropolitan and regional locations offering medication abortion. Some public hospitals and sexual health clinics across the state.

Legislation

The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019

Abortion is legal in New South Wales, a termination can be sought up until 22 weeks gestation. Terminations can be performed after 22 weeks gestation however there are conditions to this including the consultation of a second medical practitioner and the offering of counselling.

A registered health practitioner with conscientious objection must disclose the objection to the person and refer on to a practitioner or service who does not have a conscientious objection.

150m safe access zones are set around termination services.

Availability

Mostly in private clinics in Sydney and some regional areas, with limited public provision. No referral necessary.

For more information on availability check our interstate abortion providers page or contact Family Planning NSW on 1300 658 886.

Legislation

Medical Practitioners (Maternal Health) Amendment Act 2002; Health (Patient Privacy) Amendment Bill 2015; Health (Improving Abortion Access) Amendment Bill 2018

Only a registered medical or nurse practitioner may carry out abortion.

Ministerial approval is required for the medical facility, or part of, for abortions to be performed.

The Health Minister can declare safe access or ‘exclusion zones’ around approved abortion facilities where photography and video, harassing, threatening or intimidating behaviour are prohibited.

An authorised person (medical practitioner or nurse) who conscientiously objects to participating in a termination must inform the person requesting the termination of their refusal to participate.

Availability
For information on availability check our interstate abortion providers page or call Sexual Health & Family Planning ACT on 02 6247 3077.

Legislation

Abortion Law Reform Act 2008

Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015The Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 allows for the provision of abortion on request by a qualified medical practitioner, nurse or pharmacist if a pregnant person is less than 24 weeks pregnant; after 24 weeks a second practitioner must agree the termination is in the patient’s best interest for an abortion to be lawfully performed. Abortion by an unqualified person remains a crime. The Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Safe Access Zones) Bill 2015 means 150m safe access zones are set around termination services.

Availability
Mostly private clinics, however some public services are available. Most of these are located in Melbourne.

For more information on availability check our interstate abortion providers page or visit 1800MyOptions

Legislation

South Australia

Legislation
Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (amended 1969), sections 81(1), 81(2) and 82

Section 82 (A) outlines the circumstances in which a lawful abortion may be obtained. For an abortion to be legal, it must be carried out within 28 weeks of conception in a prescribed hospital by a legally qualified medical practitioner, provided he or she is of the opinion, formed in good faith, that either the “maternal health” ground or the “fetal disability” ground is satisfied.

The “maternal health” ground permits abortion if more risk to the woman or pregnant person’s life, or to their physical or mental health (taking into account their actual or reasonably foreseeable environment), would be posed by continuing rather than terminating the pregnancy. The “fetal disability” ground permits abortion if there is a substantial risk that the child would be seriously physically or mentally handicapped.

A second qualified medical practitioner must share the medical practitioner’s opinion that either of these grounds is satisfied.

The wording of the “maternal health” ground suggests a liberality of access to abortion in early pregnancy. A conscience clause enables medical practitioners to elect not to participate in an abortion.

The pregnant person must have been resident in South Australia for at least two months before the abortion.
Availability
Pregnancy Advisory Centre in Adelaide and prescribed hospitals. Pregnancy Advisory Centre provides termination of pregnancy services at no cost. No freestanding private clinics.

For more information on availability check our interstate abortion providers page or call the Pregnancy Advisory Centre on 08 8243 3999.

Legislation

Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013

As well as stipulating that abortion is legal for women and pregnant people in Tasmania, the legislation includes provisions around conscientious objection and safe access zones.

Section 6 of the Bill states that medical practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion are not obliged to participate in termination of pregnancy procedures except in an emergency to save the pregnant person’s life or prevent serious physical injury.

Doctors and counsellors are liable to be fined if they hold a conscientious objection to abortion and do not refer pregnant people seeking information about pregnancy options to another doctor or counsellor without a conscientious objection.

Section 9 of the Bill prohibits threatening or harrassing behaviour, protesting, footpath interference, and the recording of persons entering an abortion facility, within 150m of a premises providing abortion, known as safe access zone.
AVAILABILITY
Family Planning Tasmania provides medication abortion up to 9 weeks there may also be access to medication abortion through a GP or telehealth. Providers are listed on the Women’s Health Tasmania website.

For more information on availability check our interstate abortion providers page or call Women’s Health Tasmania on (03) 6231 3212 or Family Planning Tasmania – Hobart on 03 6228 5244.

Legislation

Health Act 1911, sections 334 and 335

In Western Australia abortion is legal when performed before 20 weeks gestation, with limitations for women and pregnant people under 16. Provisions relating to abortion are found in the Criminal Code and the Health Act.Criminal Code S199 stipulates:

  • Abortion must be performed by a medical practitioner in good faith and with reasonable care and skill.
  • Abortion must be justified under section 334 of the Health Act 1911.
  • Where an abortion is unlawfully performed by a medical practitioner they are liable to a fine of $50000.
  • Where an abortion is unlawfully performed by someone other than a medical practitioner, the penalty is a maximum of five years imprisonment.

The offence of ‘unlawful’ abortion may only be committed by the persons involved in performing the abortion. The patient themself is not subject to any legal sanction in Western Australia.

Section 259 is a defence for unlawful abortion:

A person is not criminally responsible for administering, in good faith and with reasonable care and skill, surgical or medical treatment –

  1. to another person for that other person’s benefit; or
  2. to an unborn child for the preservation of the mother’s life,

if the administration of the treatment is reasonable, having regards to the patient’s state at the time and to all the circumstances of the case.

Health Act 1911, sections 334 and 335

The Health Act (Abortion) Amendment Act 1998 details when the performance of abortion is justified, under Section 334 (3), as:

  1. the woman or pregnant person concerned has given informed consent; or
  2. the woman or pregnant person concerned will suffer serious personal, family or social consequences if the abortion is not performed; or
  3. serious danger to the physical or mental health of the woman or pregnant person concerned will result if the abortion is not performed; or
  4. the pregnancy of the woman or pregnant person concerned is causing serious danger to their physical or mental health.

Informed consent is defined under the WA legislation as whether a medical practitioner other than one performing or assisting with the abortion has provided counselling to the woman or pregnant person about medical risk of continuing the pregnancy, and offered opportunity of referral for counselling prior to and following a pregnancy termination or carrying a pregnancy to term.

After 20 weeks of pregnancy, two medical practitioners from a panel of six appointed by the Minister have to agree that the mother or unborn baby has a severe medical condition. These abortions can only be performed at a facility approved by the Minister.

No person, hospital, health institution, or other institution or service is under a duty where by contract or by statutory or other legal requirement to participate in the performance of an abortion.

A parental notification clause means woman and pregnant people under 16 years of age need to have one parent informed, and given the opportunity to participate in counselling before an abortion can be performed. However, young women and pregnant young people may apply to the Children’s Court for an order to proceed with an abortion if it is not considered suitable to involve their parent(s).

Section 335 of the Health Act was amended to ensure data collection on abortion procedures, and to ensure patients’ identities are not able to be ascertained from this data collection.
AVAILABILITY
The majority of services are located in the Perth area. Freestanding private clinics charge a gap/theatre fee to patients. Limited availability of services in rural and regional areas of the state.

For more information on availability check our interstate abortion providers pageor call Sexual Health Quarters on 08 9227 6177.

Legislation

Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Act 2017

Services for termination of pregnancy are legally available in the Northern Territory up to 14 weeks gestation if a doctor agrees it is reasonable, and up to 23 weeks if another doctor approves.

The Northern Territory’s Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Act states that abortion is lawful:

  1. At less than 14 weeks if a suitably qualified medical practitioner considers the termination is appropriate inall thecircumstances, having regard to:
    1. (a) all relevant medical circumstances; and
    2. (b) the woman or pregnany person’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances; and
    3. (c) professional standards and guidelines.
  2. A suitably qualified medical practitioner may perform a termination on apersonwho is more than 14 weeks pregnant, but not more than 23 weeks pregnant, if:
    1. (a) the medical practitioner has consulted with at least one other suitably qualified medical practitioner who has assessed the woman or pregnant person; and
    2. (b) each medical practitioner considers the termination is appropriate in all the circumstances (as per 1).

The Act stipulates that a woman or pregnant person’s life must be endangered for a pregnancy to be terminated at more than 23 weeks gestation.

It also:

  • removes the possibility for women or pregnant people to be charged for procuring an abortion;
  • includes a requirement for medical practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion to refer their patients to another practitioner who does not have a conscientious objection; and
  • establishes safe access zones of 150m around abortion provider premises where harassing, intimidating, threatening, obstructing and recording is prohibited.

AVAILABILITY
Services are available at the Royal Darwin Hospital or the Alice Springs Hospital.

For more information on availability check our interstate abortion providers page, the NT Department of Health website, or call Family Planning Northern Territory on 08 8948 1044.