SUMMARY OF AUSTRALIAN ABORTION LAWS – LABOR’s ABORTION OBSESSION

1. Australian State & Territory Termination of Pregnancy jurisdictions

STATE

LAW (link) / year

Summary** (more comprehenisve summary in the below table)

Political Party’s Bill

Queensland

Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018

Abortion to birth legal for any reason

Labor

Victoria

Abortion Law Reform Act 2008

Abortion to birth legal for any reason

Labor

Tasmania

Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Act 2013

Abortion to 16 weeks for any reason; 16 weeks to birth for medical/ psychological reasons.

Labor

Western Australia

Acts Amendment (Abortion) Act 1998

Abortion to 20 weeks for any reason; 20 weeks to birth for medical reasons.

Labor

ACT

Crimes (Abolition of Offence of Abortion) Act 2002;

Health (Patient Privacy) Amendment Act 2015

Abortion to birth legal for any reason

Labor

South Australia

Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (Current Version, Part 3 Division 17)

Abortion to 28 weeks for mental/physical health of mother or fetal disability.

Labor

New South Wales

Crimes Act 1990 (ss 224-226); R v Wald (1971);

Abortion lawful in practice because of case law, abortion on demand available at private abortion clinics up to 20 weeks gestation. Abortion still officially sits under the Criminal Code in NSW but there are approximately 20,000 abortions a year in NSW, effectively there is abortion on demand to 20 weeeks gestation in NSW. Abortions post 20 weeks can be obtained for serious fetal abnormality or if the life of the mother is at risk.

-In 2017 a Greens’ Bill to decriminalise abortionwas defeated 25 to 14 in the NSW upper house.

- 150 metre exclusion zone around abortion clinics since June 2018 (except for election materials)

N/A - case law

Northern Territory

Termination of Pregnancy Law Reform Act 2017

Abortion to 14 weeks for any reason. Abortion 14 to 23 weeks based on wide range of criteria including “social circumstances”. Post 23 weeks abortion is legal to save a woman’s life.

Labor

 

2. Expanded summary of abortion laws

STATE

LAWS

Queensland

- 22 weeks on request.

- 22 weeks to birth on a range of criteria including “social circumstances”.

- Doctors with conscientious objection to abortion must refer anyway.

- No safeguards for women considering abortion (like counselling).

- 150 metre exclusion zone around abortion clinics.

- No provision to provide medical care for babies born alive in failed abortion procedures (babies left to die).

- No ban on partial birth abortions (the cruel method banned in the US where a late-term baby is partially delivered feet first and then the baby’s head is decompressed while still in the birth canal).

Victoria

- 24 weeks on request.

- 24 weeks to birth on a range of criteria including “social circumstances”.

- Doctors with conscientious objection to abortion must refer anyway.

- No safeguards for women considering abortion (like counselling).

- 150 metre exclusion zone around abortion clinics.

- No provision to provide medical care for babies born alive in failed abortion procedures (babies left to die).

- No ban on partial birth abortions.

ACT

-Abortion is legal at any gestation until birth.

-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.

- 50 metre exclusion zones around abortion clinics. Penalty for breach: maximum 25 penalty units for engaging in prohibited behaviour; maximum 50 penalty units and/or 6 months’ imprisonment for publishing video of person entering/leaving facility.

- No provision to provide medical care for babies born alive in failed abortion procedures (babies left to die).

- No ban on partial birth abortions.

- No safeguards for women considering abortion (like counselling).

Tasmania

- 16 weeks on request.

- 16 weeks to birth requiring consent of two doctors on medical  or psychological grounds.

- At least one of the doctors must specialise in obstetrics or gynaecology.

- Doctors with conscientious objection to abortion must refer anyway.

- Doctors, nurses and midwives continue to have a duty to treat during an emergency if a termination is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman or prevent serious physical injury.

- Doctors who hold a conscientious objection and fail to provide a woman with the list of prescribed health services risk professional (not criminal) sanctions.

- It is a crime for a person to terminate a pregnancy without a woman’s consent.

- It is also a crime for a person who is not a medical practitioner to terminate a pregnancy.

- 150 metre exclusion zone.

- No provision to provide medical care for babies born alive in failed abortion procedures (babies left to die).

- No ban on partial birth abortions.

- No safeguards for women considering abortion (like counselling).

Western Australia

- Legal Up to 20 weeks on request to counselling by a medical practitioner other than the one performing the abortion

- When the life or physical or mental health of the woman is endangered and when the pregnancy causes serious danger to the woman's mental health, or when serious personal, family or social circumstances,

- After 20 weeks, for severe fetal abnormality – must be confirmed by two independently appointed doctors.

- The medical practitioner must provide the woman with counselling about the medical risks of having a termination and of continuing the pregnancy.

- No provision to provide medical care for babies born alive in failed abortion procedures (babies left to die).

- No ban on partial birth abortions.

Northern Territory

-Abortion legal up to 14 weeks gestation on request

- Abortion legal 14 weeks to 23 weeks on under a broad of criteria including social circumstances.

-Abortion legal from 23 weeks gestation to save the life of a woman.

- 150 metre exclusion zone around abortion clinics

- no requirement of parental approval for abortions

- RU486 tablets provided for early medical abortions.

- Doctors with conscientious objection to abortion must refer anyway.

- No provision to provide medical care for babies born alive in failed abortion procedures (babies left to die).

- No ban on partial birth abortions.

- No safeguards for women considering abortion (like counselling).

South Australia

A 1969 statutory amendment allows abortion when:

●      two doctors determine the abortion necessary on mental or physical health grounds or for foetal abnormalities

●      performed in a prescribed hospital before the woman is 28 weeks pregnant and thereafter only to preserve the woman’s health

●      the woman has resided in South Australia for two months.

In an emergency, these provisions may be waived.

- No provision to provide medical care for babies born alive in failed abortion procedures (babies left to die).

- No ban on partial birth abortions.

- No safeguards for women considering abortion (like counselling).

New South Wales

Abortion lawful in practice because of case law, abortion on demand is available at private abortion clinics for up to 20 weeks gestation. Abortions post 20 weeks can be obtained for serious fetal abnormality or if the life of the mother is at risk.

Abortion is still listed as a crime under sections 82–84 of the Crimes Act 1900 (punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment), but the interpretation of the law is subject to the Levine ruling, from R v Wald of 1971,based on another ruling which held an abortion to be legal if a doctor had an honest and reasonable belief that, due to 'any economic, social or medical ground or reason', the abortion was necessary to 'preserve the woman involved from serious danger to her life or physical or mental health which the continuance of the pregnancy would entail'.

-This was expanded by CES v Superclinics Australia Pty Ltd (1995), which extended the period during which health concerns might be considered from the duration of pregnancy to any period during the woman's life, even after the birth of the child.

-In 2006, a doctor, Suman Sood, was convicted of two counts of performing an illegal abortion where she failed to enquire as to whether a lawful reason for performing the abortion did exist before supplying drugs.

-In 2017 a Greens’ Bill to decriminalise abortion was defeated 25 to 14 in the NSW upper house.

- 150 metre exclusion zone around abortion clinics since June 2018 (except for election materials)

- No safeguards for women considering abortion (like counselling).