In Australia the law surrounding abortion is defined by each state. An abortion can be carried out to protect the health of a woman, the precise definition of this differs depending on which state or territory she is in. In most of Australia the laws relating to abortion can be summarised as:
- It is against the law to administer any poison or use any instrument or other means to procure a miscarriage.
- It is an offence for a woman to attempt to bring on her own miscarriage.
- It is an offence to supply the means (drug or instrument) to procure a miscarriage.
These laws (criminal code) were written back in the early 1900’s and have not changed for over 100 years.
In NSW the legality of abortion is based on common law interpretation of the criminal code. So, in NSW abortion is considered legal/lawful if the pregnancy puts the mental or physical health of the mother at risk. A woman’s life circumstances, not just medical, can justify the need for an abortion.
The doctor performing the abortion procedure will ask why a woman cannot continue a pregnancy to ascertain lawfulness. The doctors are non judgmental and respect the many reasons for terminating a pregnancy (mental, physical or social). Abortion services are available up to 20 weeks of pregnancy in NSW.
GCA provides first trimester surgical termination to 14 weeks and medical termination to 7 weeks (in accordance with the protocol of the TGA). A woman over the age of 14 can consent to an abortion if the doctor deems her mature enough to do so.
A woman does not require the consent of her partner for an abortion. There is also no enforced waiting period.