Abortion Laws in Australia

As the Australian Government does not legislate on abortion laws, the States and Territories have their own laws. Even though in some states abortion remains under criminal law, judicial rulings mean that abortion is regarded as legal if certain conditions are met. The father is not required to consent and may not legally prevent an abortion. In all jurisdictions, the woman must give informed consent.

 

The following is a brief summary of information for each state as well as a link to the relevant legislation.  It is not legal advice. 

  

Abortion Law in the Australian Capital Territory

 

Abortion as a criminal offence was repealed in 2002 and abortion is treated under the Health Act.  Abortion is permitted by any registered medical practitioner in a medical facility or part of a medical facility approved by the Minister for Health. Every person has the right to refuse to assist with an abortion.

 

CRIMES (ABOLITION OF OFFENCE OF ABORTION) ACT 2002

 

 

 

Abortion Law in New South Wales

 

 

Abortion still comes under the Crimes Act but following the Levine ruling (1971), abortion is deemed lawful if a doctor considers that the pregnancy puts at risk the mother’s life or physical or mental health. Social and economic considerations may be considered as well as medical.  

 

NSW CRIMES ACT 1900 (Sections 82, 83,84)

 

 

Abortion Law in Queensland

 

Abortion in Queensland comes under the Criminal Code but a judicial ruling (McGuire ruling 1986) means that it is considered lawful if a doctor believes that there is a serious risk to the woman’s physical or mental health (other than those which are normally present in pregnancy and birth). 

 

CRIMINAL CODE ACT 1899 (Sections 224, 225, 226): 

 

 

Abortion Law in South Australia

 

Since 1969, abortion up to 28 weeks of pregnancy has been  legal in South Australia if two doctors agree that it is necessary to protect the life or physical or mental health of the woman or if the child is likely to be born with a serious abnormality. It must be performed in a hospital and the pregnant woman must be a resident of South Australia. In an emergency, these provisions may be waived.

 

CRIMINAL LAW CONSOLIDATION ACT 1935 (go to Current Version PDF, Part 3 Division 17)

 

 

Abortion Law in Tasmania

 

Abortion on request is available up to 16 weeks of pregnancy.  After 16 weeks, a doctor can provide a termination with the woman’s consent if the doctor reasonably believes that continuing the pregnancy would involve greater risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the woman than if the pregnancy was terminated. The doctor must consult a second doctor who agrees with this. At least one of the doctors must specialise in obstetrics or gynaecology. In assessing the risk of injury, doctors must consider the woman’s physical, psychological, economic and social circumstances.

 

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH (ACCESS TO TERMINATIONS) ACT 2013

 

 

Abortion Law in the Northern Territory

 

Prior to March 2017 abortion was legal up to 14 weeks under certain circumstances.

New legislation was passed in March 2017. A link to the new Act is not available at time of writing. However the proposed new legislation allows for abortion up to 14 weeks if a medical practitioner considers it is appropriate having regard to a woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances. Between 14 and 23 weeks a second suitably qualified medical practitioner must also consider the termination appropriate.

 

Proposed legislation:  TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY LAW REFORM BILL 2017

 

 

Abortion Law in Western Australia

 

 Abortion up to 20 weeks is legal with informed consent but with restrictions for those under 16, where counselling is given by a medical practitioner other than the one performing the abortion. After 20 weeks, abortion is only justified if two doctors from an appointed panel of six deem that there are strong indications of serious medical or psychiatric conditions of the mother, or foetal abnormalities. Informed consent is needed and the procedure must be performed in a facility approved by the Minister.

 

ACTS AMENDMENT (ABORTION) ACT 1998

 

 

Abortion Law in Victoria

 

Abortion up to 24 weeks is legal for any reason if carried out by a registered medical practitioner. After 24 weeks, a registered medical practitioner may carry out an abortion if he/she reasonably believes the abortion is appropriate in all circumstances and has consulted another registered medical practitioner. They must consider a) all relevant medical circumstances and b) the woman’s current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances.

 

ABORTION LAW REFORM ACT 2008