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What Are The Abortion Laws In Australia?

Joel Duggan

| Last updated 

What Are The Abortion Laws In Australia?

With the recent reversal of the Roe v Wade federal legal protection of abortion in the United States, many in Australia have been considering our own abortion laws with worry that they may face a similar attack.

Unlike the US, Australia has never had federal protection of abortion.

Instead, those protections have been left to the states and territories to legislate for themselves.

The only federal involvement in abortion is through the government-funded Medicare system, which subsidises abortions as a health service.


Australia’s states and territories have legislated abortion in various ways at different points in time, but as of 2022 abortion is legal all across Australia.

However, ease of access to an abortion can differ based on the state.

Credit: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Stock Photo

Although all states guarantee access up to at least 16 weeks (with many states guaranteeing it up until around 20-24 weeks), beyond that limit the approval of two doctors is normally required.


The exception is the ACT, which poses no gestational limit and allows abortion at any time without doctor approval.

Full legalisation of abortion is a relatively new phenomenon in Australia.

Western Australia was the first state to decriminalise abortion in 1998, followed by the ACT in 2002, Victoria in 2008, Tasmania in 2013, the Northern Territory in 2017, Queensland in 2018, NSW in 2019 and South Australia in 2021.

Before this slew of reforms, abortions were normally only allowed in situations deemed medically necessary.


In addition to Australia’s decriminalisation laws, there are a series of other laws upheld by the states that further protect abortion rights.

In all jurisdictions, there are restrictions on anti-abortion protests, which prevent them from harassing visitors within a certain proximity of abortion clinics.

Tasmania was the first to implement this restriction in 2013; Western Australia was the last to do so in 2021.

Additionally, putative fathers are not required to be notified of the abortion, nor do they have legal grounds to request an injunction preventing it.


Minors also do not need to notify their parents of the abortion, with the exception of Western Australia.

Nor are there any waiting periods imposed upon those in need of an abortion.

Overall, despite decriminalisation being fairly recent, Australia is a country that has a solid legal framework for guaranteeing the right to an abortion, particularly in comparison to many places across the United States now.

Featured Image Credit: Ivan Kmit / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Australia

Joel Duggan
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