Abortion and the Law (SA)
In 2022, abortion in South Australia was fully decriminalised under the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021. The change was applauded by human rights groups, such as the Human Rights Law Centre, and noted as particularly significant in the wake of the recent US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade, which provided constitutional protection of abortion rights in the US. This article outlines the laws surrounding the termination of a pregnancy in South Australia.
When is abortion legal in SA?
Under section 5 of the Termination of Pregnancies Act, an abortion can legally be performed in South Australia where:
- it is performed by a medical practitioner and the patient is no more than 22 weeks and six days pregnant; or
- it is performed by a registered health practitioner by administering or prescribing a drug.
Under section 6 of the Termination of Pregnancies Act, a medical practitioner may perform an abortion after 22 weeks and six days if it is performed at a prescribed hospital and two medical practitioners agree that:
- it is necessary to save the patient’s life or the life of another foetus; or
- continuing the pregnancy would involve a significant risk to the physical or mental health of the patient; or
- there is a significant risk of foetal anomalies.
When is abortion not legal
Under section 12 of the Termination of Pregnancies Act , a registered health practitioner must not perform an abortion for the purpose of sex selection.
Where is abortion available?
An abortion can be obtained at the Pregnancy Advisory Centre in Adelaide at no cost. Abortions can also be obtained at prescribed hospitals in South Australia. Some private obstetricians and gynaecologists also perform abortions.
There are still some criminal offences relating to abortion in South Australia.
Termination of pregnancy by an unqualified person
Under section 14, it is an offence for an unqualified person to carry out an abortion on another person. This is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
Assistance by an unqualified person
Under section 14, it is an offence for an unqualified person to assist in carrying out an abortion on another person. This is punishable by a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
If a registered health practitioner is approached by a patient about abortion and has a conscientious objection to performing the termination or providing advice about terminations, they must inform the patient that they have a conscientious objection and, without delay, refer them to a practitioner who does not.
Safe access zones
Under the Health Care (Safe Access) Amendment Act 2020 certain behaviour is prohibited within public areas within 150 metres of premises where abortions are performed.
Within safe access zones, a person must not:
- threaten, intimidate or harass another person;
- obstruct another person from approaching, entering or leaving the premises;
- record images of a person approaching, entering or leaving the premises;
- communicate about abortions in a way that is likely to be seen or heard by persons approaching, entering or leaving the premises in a way that is likely to cause distress or anxiety.
Police may direct a person to leave a safe access zone if they are suspected of prohibited behaviour. A person who fails to do so is committing an offence and may be fined up to $10, 000 or imprisoned for 12 months, or both.
It is an offence to publish or distribute a recording of a person approaching, entering or leaving protected premises if the recording could identify the person. This is an offence punishable by a fine of up to $10,000.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.