Abortion in NSW
Updated on Nov 22, 2022 • 4 min read • 919 views • Copy Link
Abortion in NSW
Abortion was legalised in New South Wales in 2019 under the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019. Abortion in New South Wales may be surgical (meaning that a surgical procedure is carried out to end a pregnancy) or medical (meaning that a drug is administered or prescribed in order to end a pregnancy). This page deals with the law surrounding abortion in New South Wales.
Abortion in New South Wales before 22 weeks
Under section 5 of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019, a doctor may perform an abortion on a person who is no more than 22 weeks pregnant with their informed consent, or with the informed consent of another person on their behalf if they lack the capacity to give informed consent. A doctor may carry out an abortion without informed consent where it is not practicable to obtain it.
Abortion in New South Wales after 22 weeks
Under section 6, a medical specialist may carry out an abortion on a person who is more than 22 weeks pregnant under some circumstances. This may occur if the specialist medical practitioner considers that there are sufficient grounds for the termination, has consulted with another specialist medical practitioner who agrees, and has the patient’s informed consent.
For an abortion to proceed, the pregnant person (or someone else on their behalf) must give informed consent. To do so, the patient must be given information about the procedure, including any risks and possible complications and the common emotional and psychological effects of undergoing an abortion.
A person under the age of 16 can validly consent to an abortion without parental consent if the doctor is satisfied that she is mature enough to understand the implications of the decision.
Before an abortion is carried out under section 5, a medical practitioner must assess whether it would be beneficial to discuss counselling with the patient. If the practitioner considers it would be beneficial and the patient is interested in accessing counselling, the practitioner must provide them with information about access to counselling including publicly funded counselling.
Before carrying out an abortion under this section, a specialist medical practitioner must provide the patient with information about access to counselling, unless it is an emergency.
Conscientious objections to abortion in New South Wales
If a doctor is approached by a patient about abortion and has a conscientious objection to carrying out an abortion, they must advise the patient of this and refer them to a doctor who does not have a conscientious objection to abortion and who can provide them with advice about and access to abortion.
Safe access law
In June 2018, the NSW parliament passed a law making it an offence to harass people within 150 metres of an abortion clinic. The Public Health Amendment (Safe Access to Reproductive Health Clinics) Bill introduces provisions making it an offence to do any of the following within a safe access zone:
- Harass, intimidate, beset, threaten, hinder, obstruct or impede a person leaving or accessing a reproductive health clinic where abortions are performed;
- Obstruct or block a footpath or road leading to a reproductive health clinic where abortions are performed;
- Communicate about abortions in a way that is reasonably likely to cause distress or anxiety to a person accessing or leaving a reproductive health clinic where abortions are performed;
- Intentionally capture visual data of another person without that person’s consent;
- Publish or distribute a recording of a person made within a safe access zone without the person’s consent;
Abortion offences carry a maximum penalty of:
- A fine of 50 penalty units or imprisonment for 6 months, or both (for a first offence);
- A fine of 100 penalty units or imprisonment for 12 months, or both (for a second or subsequent offence).
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