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Where Australia stands on abortion

Abortion is common, safe, and the only criminalised listed medical procedure in Australia due to an archaic,...

Posted: Sep 14, 2018 9:49 AM
Updated: Sep 14, 2018 9:49 AM

Abortion is common, safe, and the only criminalised listed medical procedure in Australia due to an archaic, flawed piece of legislation inherited from Victorian England.

Despite campaigns to decriminalize abortion, progress has been slow, and patchy across states. Here's where each state is up to.

Abortion

Abortion rights

Australia

Continents and regions

Health and medical

Medical treatments and procedures

Mental health

Oceania

Sexual and reproductive health

Societal issues

Society

The Australian Capital Territory

The ACT is the only Australian jurisdiction to completely remove abortion from criminal law. Medical practitioners can perform abortions at approved facilities.

The health minister can establish safe access zones around abortion clinics, where interfering with a person attending the clinic or causing them distress is prohibited.

Who chooses abortion? More women than you might think

The parliament is set to debate a bill that would allow women to access abortion via telemedicine, nurse practitioners, or their GP.

New South Wales

"Unlawful abortion" is punishable by up to ten years' imprisonment in NSW. Case law permits medical practitioners to perform abortions on physical, mental health, economic or "social stress" grounds.

In 2017, a woman who had experienced reproductive coercion was convicted of attempting to procure a miscarriage.

In 2017, the NSW Coalition government unanimously voted against decriminalising abortion. Safe access zones were established in June 2018. The Greens continue to campaign for law repeal.

Northern Territory

Ministerially approved medical practitioners can perform abortions to preserve a woman's life before 14 weeks gestation on physical, psychological or social grounds and between 14 and 23 weeks with another doctor's approval in the NT.

The legality of abortions performed after 23 weeks is uncertain. Doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion must refer patients to a doctor with no such objection. Safe access zones are established in the NT.

The attorney general has promised to review the abortion laws.

Queensland

Abortion is a crime punishable by up to ten years' imprisonment in Queensland. Case law permits medical practitioners to perform abortions "in exceptional cases" on physical and mental health grounds.

In 2010, a Cairns couple was tried and acquitted of procuring an abortion. In April 2018, a suicidal 12-year-old sought permission from the Supreme Court to obtain an abortion. The lack of surgical abortion facilities in far north Queensland has seen women fly interstate for abortions or even perform self-administered abortion.

How the Catholic Church came to oppose birth control

Parliament will debate the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 in October. This bill follows the Queensland Law Reform Commission's recommendations and allows abortion on request to 22 weeks and thereafter in emergencies or when two doctors deem it necessary on physical, psychological or social grounds.

There are provisions for conscientious objection and safe access zones. Abortions performed by unqualified persons would remain unlawful.

South Australia

Abortion remains a crime punishable by up to life imprisonment in SA. 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.

After two years of community engagement, the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition began its formal campaign in August 2018 by sending letters to each state MP calling on them to take action to repeal abortion laws.

Tasmania

In Tasmania medical practitioners can perform abortions with a woman's consent up to 16 weeks, and thereafter when two doctors deem it necessary on physical or mental health grounds. There are provisions for conscientious objection and safe access zones.

The state's last abortion clinic closed in December 2017, forcing women requiring surgical abortions to travel interstate. The Liberal government is working with a private provider to deliver low-cost surgical procedures to women in Hobart from October.

Victoria

Abortion is legal on request up to 24 weeks, and thereafter when two medical practitioners deem it necessary on physical, psychological or social grounds. Pharmacists and registered nurses can supply and administer medical abortion before 24 weeks, and thereafter on direction from a medical practitioner.

It remains a crime for an unqualified person to perform an abortion. There is a conscientious objection clause. Safe access zones were established in 2015.

An anti-abortionist has brought an appeal against her conviction for breaching safe access zones to the High Court on grounds that the legislation infringes on her freedom of political communication. A similar challenge has been brought in Tasmania.

Western Australia

Abortion is unlawful unless performed before 20 weeks' gestation by a medical practitioner who has obtained a woman's informed consent or determines the abortion necessary on physical, mental, social, personal or familial grounds.

After 20 weeks, two medical doctors from a ministerially appointed panel of at least six must agree the pregnant woman or foetus has a severe medical condition. A parent must be notified of abortions performed on those under 16 years of age.

Australian laws obstruct access to abortion. Gestational limits, which are generally interpreted conservatively, often make second and third trimester abortions accessible solely to those who can afford to travel interstate or overseas.

South Australians cannot access medical abortion via telehealth or their GPs and must travel to Adelaide or a handful of regional centers.

Abortion remains a doctor's choice in several jurisdictions. Abortions are generally costly, and one in three women find it difficult or very difficult to finance them. Law repeal is therefore one of many changes necessary to ensure better abortion access.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 255125

Reported Deaths: 5574
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17257180
Hinds16331322
Harrison13567194
Rankin10804212
Jackson10453184
Lee8864141
Madison8314164
Jones6434112
Forrest6009120
Lauderdale5902186
Lowndes5405116
Lafayette499193
Lamar488565
Washington4803124
Bolivar3997109
Oktibbeha395381
Panola372379
Pontotoc367853
Monroe3558105
Warren354898
Union345960
Marshall344066
Neshoba3396152
Pearl River3301100
Leflore3041107
Lincoln298085
Sunflower286671
Hancock274459
Tate273162
Alcorn265453
Itawamba263759
Pike263778
Scott248046
Yazoo247056
Prentiss246552
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Coahoma241054
Simpson236467
Leake231765
Grenada219471
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Marion213073
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Wayne202932
Winston201666
George199839
Attala194259
Newton193444
Tishomingo189361
Chickasaw185044
Jasper172736
Holmes168767
Clay159833
Stone144721
Tallahatchie141934
Clarke139862
Calhoun136521
Smith121424
Yalobusha117834
Walthall112336
Noxubee110822
Greene110429
Montgomery109834
Carroll104821
Lawrence102917
Perry102631
Amite98426
Webster92824
Tunica87321
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85326
Humphreys83124
Benton82023
Kemper77620
Quitman6968
Franklin66715
Choctaw60913
Wilkinson58725
Jefferson54919
Sharkey43117
Issaquena1596
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 426543

Reported Deaths: 6126
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62752920
Mobile30551554
Madison27303186
Tuscaloosa20835267
Montgomery19192305
Shelby18693114
Baldwin16513183
Lee12603101
Morgan12321113
Etowah11805168
Calhoun11206200
Marshall10236107
Houston8681148
Cullman8094105
Limestone807474
Elmore7923101
DeKalb771597
Lauderdale763183
St. Clair7599120
Talladega6224108
Walker5930174
Jackson583741
Colbert535473
Blount532083
Autauga522755
Coffee446256
Dale399781
Franklin368148
Chilton337865
Russell335910
Covington330168
Escambia321342
Dallas305196
Chambers288669
Clarke283133
Tallapoosa2630107
Pike251329
Marion247350
Lawrence245247
Winston229035
Bibb217047
Geneva203335
Marengo200829
Pickens196931
Hale177442
Barbour173836
Fayette171226
Butler170758
Cherokee160930
Henry155021
Monroe147317
Randolph141535
Washington138326
Clay127045
Crenshaw120244
Cleburne118423
Lamar118419
Macon116835
Lowndes111535
Wilcox103621
Bullock99728
Perry98219
Conecuh95120
Sumter89526
Greene76223
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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