Abortion Laws

Laws on abortion in Australia

Abortion laws in Australia differ among States and territories, but one thing they all seem to have in common is that they consider abortion as the subject of criminal law. Only the Australian Capital Territory is different in this regard. Every Australian state and territory has a law that prohibits unlawful abortion. In Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania, some laws give statutory explanation or scenarios as to when abortion will not be considered unlawful.  Other states adopt the common law interpretations of the criminal code or Crimes Act which gives a large population of women the ability to have a lawful abortion.

Queensland

Abortion is not criminal here, but there are still restrictions and legal penalties for unlawful abortion. The Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 is the primary law on abortion in Queensland and make it legal and available on request until 22 weeks of pregnancy. After that period, for abortion to be allowed, the medical practitioner must consult with another medical practitioner who must also agree that abortion is necessary or recommended in those circumstances. Suppose a medical practitioner should object to abortion for conscientious reasons. In that case, they must state it and give the pregnant person information on locating or contacting another practitioner who doesn’t have such objections. Or they should transfer the person to another health service provider or registered health practitioner who can perform the termination.

New South Wales

It is legal for up to 22 weeks here. Once the pregnancy has exceeded 22 weeks, there is a need for two doctors’ approval to perform an abortion. Protesting within 150m proximity of an abortion service is illegal.

Australian Capital Territory

It is legal but must be performed by a medical professional, and there should be a nurse practitioner involved in the procedure. The Health Minister has discretion on setting up exclusion zones.

Victoria

It is legal for up to 24 weeks here. Once the pregnancy has exceeded 24 weeks, there is a need for the approval of two doctors to perform an abortion. Protesting within 150m proximity of an abortion service is illegal.

South Australia

Unlawful abortion is a crime here, and abortion is only legal if two doctors can agree that the pregnancy endangers the mental and/or physical health of the woman or there is a severe foetal abnormality.

Tasmania

It is legal for up to 16 weeks here. Once the pregnancy has exceeded 16 weeks, there is a need for two doctors’ approval to perform an abortion. Protesting within 150m proximity of an abortion service is illegal.

Western Australia

It is legal for up to 20 weeks, but there are restrictions in place, most especially for those below 16. After 20 weeks, abortion becomes very restricted.

Northern Territory

It is legal for up to 14 weeks when there is a doctor approval; between 14 and 23 weeks, there is a need for two doctors’ approval. After 23 weeks, it is illegal except when necessary to save the life of the pregnant person. Protesting within 150m proximity of an abortion service is illegal.