Abortion Laws Australia Complete Guide

This original article has been written and kept up-to-date by our experienced criminal lawyer.

Key Takeaways

Abortion in Australia has been decriminalised across the nation with some differences in its accessibility and pre-conditions to lawfully perform an abortion across our States and Territories. The first Australian State to make abortion legal was Western Australia in 1998, while the last Australian State to make it lawful was South Australia in 2021.

This article outlines the abortion laws across each of Australia’s States and Territories and compares it to America and the UK.

Abortion Law Australia Abortion Law in Victoria
NSW Abortion Law Abortion Laws in Queensland
Abortion Law in South Australia Abortion Law in Western Australia
Abortion Law in Tasmania Abortion Law United Kingdom?

Abortion Laws Australia

The Legality of Abortion by State and Territory
New South Wales

Lawful? Yes (up to 22 weeks)

Past 22 weeks? Requires approval by 2 doctors

Queensland

Lawful? Yes (up to 22 weeks)

Past 22 weeks? Requires approval by 2 doctors

Victoria

Lawful? Yes (up to 24 weeks)

Past 24 weeks? Requires doctors’ approval

South Australia

Lawful? Yes, if two doctors approve.

Unlawful abortion is a crime.

Western Australia

Lawful? Yes (up to 20 weeks)

Past 20 weeks? Access is restricted.

Australian Capital Territory

Lawful? Yes, if provided by a medical professional, including nurse practitioner.

Northern Territory

Lawful? Yes (up to 14 weeks with doctor approval)

14-23 weeks? Requires two doctor’s approval

Past 23 weeks? Not legal unless emergency

Tasmania

Lawful? Yes (up to 16 weeks)

Past 16 weeks? Requires 2 doctors approval.

 

While abortion is legal in Australia across all States and Territories, abortion laws across States and Territories in Australia may differ to the extent of conditions required to be complied with to perform one. These may be compared to the abortion laws in the US or the abortion laws in the UK.

As there is a lot of confusion around the law on abortion across Australia generally, let’s delve into this topical area from a legal perspective.

NSW has decriminalised abortion, making abortion legal under the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (NSW) No 11.

Victoria has decriminalised abortion, making it legal under the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 (Vic). This generally legalises abortion for up to 24 weeks pregnant.

Abortion Laws in Victoria

In Victoria, abortion is legal. According to the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 (Vic), a woman can legally get an abortion up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. If more than 24 weeks, a woman can still get an abortion if another medical practitioner agrees to it being appropriate in all the circumstances.

If a medical practitioner does object to an abortion, they do not have to give information to the woman wanting the abortion but will be required to refer her to another doctor who can provide the information.

Basically, in Victoria, the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 allows you to get an abortion on request by a qualified medical practitioner, nurse or pharmacist if you’re less than 24 weeks pregnant. If you’re more than 24 weeks pregnant, in order to get an abortion legally, a second legal practitioner needs to agree that the abortion is in your best interest.

An unqualified person preforming an abortion is a criminal offence.

NSW Abortion Law

The new Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (NSW) serves the meant to change the law on abortions in NSW, and it does this by repealing the Crimes Act provisions on abortions and abolishing the Common Law offence of abortion.

The Law on abortions in New South Wales is reflected in both section 82 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and Part 2 of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (NSW). Overall, a person who consent to an abortion, or a person who assists in or performs an abortion on themselves does not commit an offence, according to section 12 of the Abortion Law Reform Act.

The Offence of Unqualified Persons Performing an Abortion in NSW

The abortion laws in NSW are reflected in section 82(1) of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), which prohibits an unqualified person from performing (or attempting to perform) the termination of a pregnancy by administering a drug or using an instrument or other thing on another person. This offence carries a maximum penalty of 7-years imprisonment.

The same maximum penalty applies even to an unqualified person who assists in performing or attempting to perform an abortion under s82(2) of the same legislation.

The maximum penalty is rarely ever imposed by courts and is reserved for the most serious offenders of this type of offence.

Definition of ‘Assisting’

Assisting in performing a termination here includes, supplying or procuring the supply of a termination drug for use in a termination. Assisting can also include administrating a termination drug.

The definition of ‘assisting’ according to section 8(3) of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (NSW) includes dispensing, supplying or administering a termination drug on the instruction of a medical practitioner.

Definition of an ‘Unqualified Person’

An unqualified person here includes a person who is not a medical practitioner, or a person not authorised to assist in the performance of a termination in the way outlined in section 8 Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (NSW), which includes a situation when an assisting registered health practitioner knows, or ought reasonably to know, that a termination is being performed other than as authorised under sections 5 and 6 of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (NSW).

Sections 5 and 6 of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 (NSW) generally prohibits a medical practitioner from performing a termination on a person who is more than 22 weeks pregnant or if more than 22 weeks pregnant, there are insufficient grounds for the termination in the way outlined in section 6, which we will outline below.

What’s the Latest You Can Have an Abortion in NSW?

Generally, a medical practitioner is allowed to perform a termination on a person if the person is not more than 22 weeks pregnant, according to section 5(1) Abortion Law Reform Act.

However, a medical practitioner is allowed to perform a termination on a person if the person has provided informed consent.

If the person lacks the capacity to give informed consent, the consent needs to be provided from a person lawfully authorised to give it on their behalf.

A medical practitioner can still perform a termination without informed consent if in an emergency where it is not practical to obtain the person’s informed consent.

‘Informed consent’ means consent to the termination given freely and voluntarily in accordance with any guidelines applicable to the medical practitioner in relation to the performance of the termination.

A termination or abortion is permitted here only if (according to section 7(1)):

  • Before performing the termination, the medical practitioner has assessed whether or not it would be beneficial to discuss with you access to counselling about the proposed termination, and
  • If, in the medical practitioner’s assessment, it would be beneficial and you’re interested in accessing counselling, the medical practitioner provides you with all necessary information about access to counselling, including publicly-funded counselling.

Can I get an Abortion after 22 Weeks? 

If you’re more than 22 weeks pregnant, under section 6 of the Abortion Law Reform Act, a medical practitioner can perform a termination on you if the following 5 conditions are complied with:

  1. A specialist medical practitioner has:
    • Considered all relevant medical circumstances, your current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances, and a consideration of the professional standards and guidelines that apply; and
    • If the medical practitioner chooses to obtain advice, any advice sought from a multi-disciplinary team or hospital advisory committee; and
    • After consideration of all the above, forms the view that in all the circumstances there are sufficient grounds for the termination, and
  2. The specialist medical practitioner after consulting with another specialist medical practitioner who, after considering factors outlined in (a) above, also considers that there are sufficient grounds for the termination after considering all the circumstances, and
  3. The specialist medical practitioner obtained informed consent from you, and
  4. The termination is performed at a hospital controlled by a statutory health organisation, within the meaning of the Health Services Act 1977, or an approved facility, and
  5. Before performing the termination, a specialist medical practitioner provides you with all necessary information about access to counselling, including publicly-funded counselling (according to section 7(2)).

Otherwise, abortion is allowed to be performed in NSW in an emergency without the above conditions being satisfied. This applies whether or not it is being performed by a medical practitioner or specialist medical practitioner, or whether you are more than 22 weeks pregnant, but only if the medical practitioner considers it necessary to perform the termination to save your life or save another foetus.

Meaning of a specialist medical practitioner? A specialist medical practitioner in terms of performing a termination means a medical practitioner who, under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, holds specialist registration in obstetrics and gynaecology, or a medical practitioner who has other expertise that is relevant to the performance of the termination. This includes a general practitioner who’s had additional experience or qualifications in obstetrics.

Meaning of a medical practitioner? A medical practitioner means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practise in the medical profession, other than as a student.

Safe Zone Laws for Abortion Clinics in NSW

The Government in NSW have passed laws to practically ban activists from gathering within 150 meters from an abortion clinic in NSW. The 150 metres is the safe zone surrounding abortion clinics.

Breach of these laws can result in heavy penalties of imprisonment and fines.

The introduction of Safe Zones has again thrown abortion laws and women’s rights into the media spotlight.

In June of 2018 the NSW Upper House passed a bill to legislate Safe Zones surrounding abortion clinics and other women’s reproductive health facilities.

The Safe Zone legislation is in response to the picketing of clinics, unsolicited advice and the alleged harassment of staff and patients by those who oppose abortion.

The aim of the legislation is to protect the privacy and physical safety of those working in the abortion clinics and those who require their services.

NSW Parliament Overview of the Bill is as follows:

The object of this Bill is to provide for safe access zones around reproductive health clinics at which abortions are provided so as to protect the safety and well-being of, and respect the privacy and dignity of, those accessing the services provided at those premises as well as those who need to access those premises in the course of their employment.

The new Safe Zone legislation is outlined in the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to reproductive Health Clinics) Bill 2018.

NSW will now provide a safe access zone up to 150 metres surrounding the clinic premises. It aims to create a “bubble” surrounding abortion clinics. This will mean that patients and staff will have unobstructed access to enter and exit the clinics.

The legislation will ensure safer access to health services and safeguard the privacy and security of those persons seeking abortion procedures and also the staff who provide the services.

Section 98C of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) prohibits anyone from harassing, intimidating, threatening, hindering, obstructing or impeding by any means any person who is inside the ‘safe access zone’- being within 150 metres of a reproductive health clinic where abortions are provided.

This extends to prohibiting anyone within the 150m zone from blocking or obstructing a footpath/road leading to the clinic where abortions are provided.

Section 98D prohibits anyone within 150m of an abortion clinic from communicating anything related to abortions if the communication is likely to cause distress or anxiety to another person who can see or hear the communication when accessing, leaving, trying to access or leave, or inside an abortion clinic.

Section 98D excludes employees of the abortion clinic.

Section 98E prohibits intentionally capturing visual images of another person who is inside the 150m safe access zone of an abortion clinic unless there is consent.

The section also prohibits anyone from publishing or distributing a recording of another person (without his/her consent) who was within the 150m safe access zone of a clinic if the recording is likely to lead to an identification of the person.

Exceptions to this include security cameras for security purposes operated by the clinic, employees of the abortion clinic, police who are acting in the course of duties as a police officer if taking photos or videos is reasonable in the circumstances to perform those duties, and a person with a reasonable excuse.

Committing any of these ‘safe access zone’ offences in NSW attracts a term of 6 months imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine if it’s a first-time offence. Penalties are heavier for a 2nd or subsequent offence with a sentence of up to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or $11,000 fine.

The new ban on anti-abortion activism laws in safe access zones in NSW are similar to the existing Victorian Safe Zone laws. Whilst these laws in Victoria have been challenged on the grounds of infringing on freedom of speech and political communication, they were dismissed by the High Court.

Australia’s Right to Freedom of Political Communication

As a nation, Australia’s constitution expresses the following rights:

  • Freedom of religion
  • A right to vote
  • A right of protection from having your property taken in unjust terms
  • A right to be trialled by a jury in criminal matters in higher courts
  • A right to not be discriminated against on the basis of the state of residency

This doesn’t expressly include the right to freedom of political communication.

Safe Zone Laws for Abortion Clinics in NSW

The Government in NSW have passed laws to practically ban activists from gathering within 150 meters from an abortion clinic in NSW. The 150 metres is the safe zone surrounding abortion clinics.

Breach of these laws can result in heavy penalties of imprisonment and fines.

The introduction of Safe Zones has again thrown abortion laws and women’s rights into the media spotlight.

In June of 2018, the NSW Upper House passed a bill to legislate Safe Zones surrounding abortion clinics and other women’s reproductive health facilities.

The Safe Zone legislation is in response to the picketing of clinics, unsolicited advice and the alleged harassment of staff and patients by those who oppose abortion.

The aim of the legislation is to protect the privacy and physical safety of those working in the abortion clinics and those who require their services.

NSW Parliament Overview of the Bill is as follows:

The object of this Bill is to provide for safe access zones around reproductive health clinics at which abortions are provided so as to protect the safety and well-being of, and respect the privacy and dignity of, those accessing the services provided at those premises as well as those who need to access those premises in the course of their employment.

The new Safe Zone legislation is outlined in the Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to reproductive Health Clinics) Bill 2018.

NSW will now provide a safe access zone up to 150 metres surrounding the clinic premises. It aims to create a “bubble” surrounding abortion clinics. This will mean that patients and staff will have unobstructed access to enter and exit the clinics.

The legislation will ensure safer access to health services and safeguard the privacy and security of those persons seeking abortion procedures and also the staff who provide the services.

Section 98C of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) prohibits anyone from harassing, intimidating, threatening, hindering, obstructing or impeding by any means any person who is inside the ‘safe access zone’- being within 150 metres of a reproductive health clinic where abortions are provided.

This extends to prohibiting anyone within the 150m zone from blocking or obstructing a footpath/road leading to the clinic where abortions are provided.

Section 98D prohibits anyone within 150m of an abortion clinic from communicating anything related to abortions if the communication is likely to cause distress or anxiety to another person who can see or hear the communication when accessing, leaving, trying to access or leave, or inside an abortion clinic.

Section 98D excludes employees of the abortion clinic.

Section 98E prohibits intentionally capturing visual images of another person who is inside the 150m safe access zone of an abortion clinic unless there is consent.

The section also prohibits anyone from publishing or distributing a recording of another person (without his/her consent) who was within the 150m safe access zone of a clinic if the recording is likely to lead to an identification of the person.

Exceptions to this include security cameras for security purposes operated by the clinic, employees of the abortion clinic, police who are acting in the course of duties as a police officer if taking photos or videos is reasonable in the circumstances to perform those duties, and a person with a reasonable excuse.

Committing any of these ‘safe access zone’ offences in NSW attracts a term of 6 months imprisonment and/or $5,500 fine if it’s a first-time offence. Penalties are heavier for a 2nd or subsequent offence with a sentence of up to 12 months’ imprisonment and/or $11,000 fine.

The new ban on anti-abortion activism laws in safe access zones in NSW are similar to the existing Victorian Safe Zone laws. Whilst these laws in Victoria have been challenged on the grounds of infringing on freedom of speech and political communication, they were dismissed by the High Court.

Australia’s Right to Freedom of Political Communication

As a nation, Australia’s constitution expresses the following rights:

  • Freedom of religion
  • A right to vote
  • A right of protection from having your property taken in unjust terms
  • A right to be trialled by a jury in criminal matters in higher courts
  • A right to not be discriminated against on the basis of the state of residency

This doesn’t expressly include the right to freedom of political communication.

However, the High Court of Australia has said that there is an implied right to freely communicate political views as a critical component for the operation of our system of representative Government.

The case of Lange v ABC (1997) says that a law can be found to breach this implied right of the freedom of political communication if:

  • The law burdens the freedom of political communication; and
  • The law is not reasonably appropriate and doesn’t adapt to serving a legitimate end to support a representative Government system.

If the above two points are established in respect to the new safe access zone laws concerning abortion clinics, then arguably the new laws breach the implied right to the freedom of political communication.

Arguably the new laws are there to protect women who are in highly vulnerable circumstances from harm, mental and physical, which can be considered both reasonably appropriate and adaptive to serve a legitimate end to support a representative Government system which is to reflect the views of the majority of Australians. On that view, the new laws do not impede on the right to a freedom of political communication.

Queensland Abortion Laws

Queensland has decriminalised abortion with certain qualifications under the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018. A woman in Qld can legally get an abortion for up to 22 weeks pregnancy. A woman can still get an abortion after 22 weeks pregnancy if the medical practitioner in consultation with another medical practitioner considers that in all the circumstances, the abortion should be performed.

If there is an objection by a registered health practitioner, the objection must be raised to the woman seeking the abortion. That woman then should be referred on to another medical practitioner or service that can provide the requested service provided they do not have a conscientious objection to performing the termination.

Before the introduction of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 in Queensland, abortion was only legal to prevent serious danger to a woman’s health. Otherwise, it was criminalised which meant back then, both the woman seeking an abortion and doctors could be liable criminally if the abortion was considered unlawful.

WA Abortion Laws

Abortion Laws in WA have also decriminalised abortion if it is performed no later than 20 weeks of pregnancy. Western Australia laws also limit abortions to allow women to get an abortion if at least 16 years-of-age.

Generally, the legislation governing abortions in WA is the Criminal Code and the Health Act 1911.

In WA, the Criminal Code allows a woman to get an abortion if:

  • The abortion is performed by a medical practitioner in good faith and with reasonable skill and care, and
  • The abortion is justified under s334 of the Health Act 1911, namely:
    • The woman gives informed consent, or
    • The woman will suffer serious personal, family or social consequences if the abortion is not performed, or
    • Serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health will result if the abortion is not performed, or
    • The pregnancy is causing serious danger to the woman’s physical or mental health.

An ‘unlawfully’ performed abortion by a medical practitioner will be faced with a fine of up to $50,000.

If an abortion is performed by someone who is not a medical practitioner, the maximum penalty is  5-years Imprisonment. The women to whom the abortion is performed on is not liable to any fine or criminal charges.

An abortion in WA can still be performed after 20 weeks of pregnancy if two medial practitioners from a panel of 6 appointed by the Minister have agreed that the mother or unborn baby has a severe medical condition. In addition, performing an abortion to a woman more than 20 weeks pregnant can only be performed at a Minister approved facility.

If a woman is aged under 16, there must be one parent informed, with an opportunity for counselling before an abortion can be performed. Otherwise, young women can apply to the Children’s Court to obtain an order to be allowed to get an abortion if parents of the woman are not considered suitable to be involved.

South Australian Abortion Laws

An abortion is legal in South Australia under certain circumstances. In fact, South Australia was the very first Australian State to liberalise access to abortion via legislation, namely, the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935.

In South Australia, an unlawful abortion attracts criminal penalties. An abortion is lawful and permitted to take place in SA if:

  • The abortion is carried out within 28 weeks of pregnancy, and
  • The abortion takes place in a prescribed hospital by a legally qualified medical practitioner, and
  • The medical practitioner is of the opinion held in good faith, that both grounds of “fetal disability” or “maternal health” are satisfied in order to perform the abortion.

The “maternal health” ground requires that the medical practitioner be satisfied that it would be more of a risk to the pregnant woman’s life or to her physical or mental health if the abortion is not performed.

The “fetal disability” ground requires that the medical practitioner be satisfied that there is a substantial risk of the child being seriously physically or mentally handicapped.

In addition to the above requirements for a lawful abortion to take place in South Australia, a second medical practitioner is required to share the same opinions of the first medical practitioner on either of the above two grounds before the abortion can be lawfully performed.

A woman wanting an abortion in South Australia may only legally get the abortion if she has been a resident in SA for at least 2 months leading up to the abortion, in addition to the above requirements.

Tasmania Abortion Laws

Tasmania abortions laws decriminalised abortion in 2013 with the introduction of the Reproduction Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013. Abortion in Tasmania is legally permitted of up to 16 weeks pregnancy. An abortion can be lawfully performed if more than 16 weeks pregnant if two medical practitioners agree to performing it.

A medical practitioner may object to performing an abortion on the grounds of a conscientious objection unless it is an emergency situation to save the woman’s life or to prevent serious physical injury.

If a medical practitioner makes a conscientious objection to performing an abortion, then he/she must refer the woman to another medical practitioner or counsellor who does not have a conscientious objection if the woman seeks information about her pregnancy options. Failure to comply with this can result in the medical practitioner facing fines.

History of Abortion Laws in Australia

Australia has an interesting history concerning abortion laws. Abortion was first decriminalised in Western Australia in the year 1998. The last jurisdiction that decriminalised abortion was South Australia in 2021. Support for abortion in Australia has risen since this 1980s with most Australians supporting it. Anti-abortion activists are still active by using verbal abuse and threats. In addition, activists against abortion use other tactics including protests outside abortion clinics. To address this problem, laws have been implemented to prevent protesters from harassing visitors and staff members within a certain radius of these clinics.

American Abortion Laws

American abortion laws have made abortion lawful across all of its States with varying conditions and restrictions. Abortion was illegal since 1900 across America. Abortion was decriminalised across all of the American States in 1973 as a result of the United States Supreme Court cases of Doe v Bolton and Roe v Wade. However, before these cases and before 1973, some American states had already legalised abortion. These cases essentially helped decriminalise abortion across the entire country.

Interestingly, rates of abortion in America have consistently reduced from a peak in 1980 of 30 to every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44, to 11.3 abortions to every 1,000 women by 2018. A significant reason for this is access to birth control.

Abortion Laws in the UK

England, Scotland and Wales allow woman to lawfully have an abortion at up to 23 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, according to the Abortion Act 1967. After those 23 weeks, an abortion is lawful if there is a fatal fetal abnormality or a significant risk to the woman’s life. In addition, at least two medical practitioners must be satisfied with certain conditions being met under the Abortion Act before signing a certificate to approve the abortion.

Abortion can be lawfully performed in the United Kingdom if:

  • There is a risk to the life of the pregnant woman, or
  • There’s a necessity for abortion to prevent grave permanent injury to the physical or mental health of the woman, or
  • There is a risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or any existing children of her family (up to a term limit of 24 weeks pregnancy), or
  • There is a substantial risk that if the child were to be born, it would “suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped”.

Additionally, abortion laws continue to be governed by the criminal law of England.

For more, here is another article on sexual offence complete guide

FAQs

Is abortion against the law?

Abortion is no longer against the law across all States and Territories of Australia, provided the law in each jurisdiction is complied with. South Australia was the last State to make abortions lawful in 2021.

What is the current law on abortion in Australia?

Abortion is now legal across all States and Territories in Australia. Abortion has been decriminalised in Australia from between 1998 in Western Australia, through to South Australia being the last State to decriminalise it in 2021.

Is abortion free in Australia?

Some medical treatments and advice are free under our Medicare in Australia. However, other medical procedures will cost of fee. Abortion costs are different in each State and Territory of Australia. Medicare will usually cover some of the costs of the abortion procedures, but not the entire cost of it. The cost will also depend on whether you are getting an abortion privately or via the public health system, medication abortion or surgical abortion, and how many weeks pregnant you are. For example, in Queensland, a surgical abortion can cost between $300 to $3,000. The cost of medication abortion can cost between $300 to $700

Is abortion free in NSW?

An abortion can cost anywhere between $250 to $3,000 generally. Abortion is not free in NSW. Some procedural parts of an abortion may be covered by Medicare, but the cost will depend on whether it is going to be a medial abortion or surgical abortion, the number of weeks pregnant you are, and any complications involved. The costs can significantly increase if it is performed in a private clinic in contrast to a public health clinic.

Is abortion legal in Victoria?

Abortion is now legal in Victoria and has been lawful since 2008 under the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008. However, there are conditions to get a lawful abortion in Victoria that must be complied with. Generally, some of those conditions require the woman to be no more than 24 weeks pregnant to get an abortion. If more than 24 weeks pregnant, an abortion can still be performed provided more of the conditions are satisfied.

What age can I get an Abortion in Victoria?

A pregnant woman can get an abortion at any age in Victoria. If you’re aged under 18 and wish to get an abortion in Victoria, normally a parent or guardian is required to agree to it. However, you may get an abortion without a parent or guardian agreeing to the termination if the medical practitioner forms the view that it’s your own choice and you understand what the choice means. An abortion is more difficult to access after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

How many weeks until you can’t get an abortion?

Generally, you cannot get an abortion if you’re more than 22 weeks pregnant unless the medical practitioner has obtained your ‘informed consent’ to the termination, according to section 5 of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019. There are limited circumstances where you can get an abortion after the 22 weeks of pregnancy if section 6 of the Abortion Law Reform Act is complied with, through a ‘specialist medical practitioner’ and certain other conditions.

Can you get an abortion under 16 without parents in Australia?

Generally, a pregnant woman aged under 16 can lawfully get an abortion if supported by her parent(s). The parent(s) must be informed, and the pregnant woman must also be given an opportunity to participate in counselling before getting the abortion. Otherwise, if the pregnant woman does not wish to inform her parent(s), then an abortion can still be lawfully performed if the Children’s Court grants an order to permit the abortion. Any Children’s Court order is kept strictly confidential.

If the woman wanting the abortion is independent of her parent(s) or a responsible adult and is not a child in care, she can get a lawful abortion without having to notify parent(s). An Order from the Children’s Court is also then not required.

Laws will vary to some extent across States and Territories of Australia. The above is an example of a lawful abortion for an under 16 year old wanting an abortion in the state of WA. Similar processes will generally be required in other states and territories.

How old do you have to be to get an abortion?

There isn’t really an age limit to lawfully get an abortion. There are hurdles that must be passed through. The younger you are, the more the hurdles, for your protection. However, generally, to get a medical procedure done such as an abortion, a woman under the age of 18 usually needs the approval of her parent(s). Otherwise, the doctor(s) will need to assess whether you’re capable of giving lawful consent to the procedure. If you’re over 16 years of age, you don’t need your parent(s) consent. If you’re over 14 but under 16, you can consent as long as you understand the medical procedure and are aware of the risks involved. If you’re 14 years or younger, normally parental or guardian consent is required. There are ways around this which may include getting a court order.

What happens if a 15 year old gets pregnant?

It’s generally recommended to tell your parent, guardian, or school counsellor about your pregnancy if you’re 15-years-of-age. It is even more important to see a doctor for advice and to explore your options. Australia provides free medical advice and treatments under the Medicare scheme for all Australian residents and citizens. If a 15-year old person wants treatment from a doctor, the doctor will usually require your parent(s) to consent. If you don’t’ want your parent’s involved, then the doctor can still provide treatment if the doctor forms the view that after assessing your age, maturity, and seriousness of the treatment you understand the nature of it. In NSW no law requires a pregnant 15 year old woman to tell her parents about her pregnancy. Some obvious options for a 15-year old pregnant woman include deciding on whether to have an abortion, raise the child or give the child up for adoption. These decisions should not be taken lightly.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

FEATURED ON:

  What Our Clients Say

I had the lovely Tayla deal with my legal matter in court. She was amazing. I got the perfect result and she made the entire process so much easier to… (read full review) By P.S from Sydney on 18/11/2021
I can't thank Alex enough for his dedication and hard work on my case. He did an exceptional job in thoroughly preparing and professionally presenting at at the Downing Centre… (read full review) By S.S. from Sydney on 19/11/2021
Had the pleasure of having Alex of CDLA represent me. He was very attentive and upfront and even managed to get an outcome of section 10 non-conviction despite the complexities… (read full review) By C.O. from Sydney on 01/11/2021
When I discovered that I needed a lawyer, I was referred to Ahmad Faraj and the CDLA team. Ahmad was very helpful from our very first discussion. Ahmad outlined everything… (read full review) By S.Y. from Sydney on 03/11/2021
I am extremely pleased with my court outcome and I got exactly what I asked for with my case. I couldn't ask for any better!! This was a very stressful… (read full review) By A.A. from Sydney on 23/09/2021

Free Conference Booking Form

Follow Us