Abortion still isn't legal in Australia. Nope, we're not joking

Seriously, this is 2019 guys.

By Rebecca Sullivan
Despite the fact that it's 2019, a bunch of old white male politicians (and a handful of women) are still trying to regulate what women choose to do with their bodies.
We've just watched on in horror as conservative American states, including Alabama, enforced an alarming abortion ban even in cases involving rape, incest or miscarriage, and now Australia's own abortion laws are now under intense scrutiny, with a new abortion law waiting to be passed in New South Wales.
Most Australians support abortion. According to a 2010 study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, 87 per cent of Australians believe abortion should be lawful in the first trimester and the majority believe doctors should not face professional sanctions for performing an abortion after 24 weeks.
But many women might be shocked to realise that abortion is still illegal in many parts of Australia, including New South Wales.
Abortion in Australia is a health issue decided by the individual state and territory governments, not the federal government, so the rules differ around the country.
Even where abortion is legal, cost continues to be a barrier, as does easy and safe access.
The average cost of a medical abortion is $560 and $470 for a first trimester surgical abortion, according to a 2017 study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.
So what is the policy in your state? Keep scrolling to find out.
Protesters campaign against Alabama's controversial abortion ban. (Image: Getty)

New South Wales

Since 1900 - yes, you read that year correctly - abortion has been listed as a crime under NSW law. That's still the case in 2019.
However, there is an exception to the rule.
If a doctor believes an abortion is necessary due to "any economic, social or medical ground or reason", then it may be permitted, in order to "preserve the woman involved from serious danger to her life or physical or mental health which the continuance of the pregnancy would entail".
Some of NSW's state politicians are desperately trying to overturn this law and decriminalise abortion.
In August 2016, Greens MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi introduced a bill to NSW parliament designed to overturn the state's current abortion laws, but in May 2017 the bill was defeated, 25 votes to 14.
Now, Sydney MP Alex Greenwich is working on a new bill to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act and make it legal, with an outcome expected to be announced this week.
This bill is based on legislation passed in Queensland last year, which created a new healthcare act that would regulate abortions. It allows for terminations up to 22 weeks, and after that with the approval of two doctors.
But for the time being, both patients and doctors in NSW risk being charged with a crime if they are involved in an abortion.


In 2008, the Abortion Law Reform Act was introduced in Victoria, allowing abortions to be requested up to 24 weeks gestation.
For abortions after 24 weeks, two doctors must agree that the procedure is necessary based on the woman's current and future physical, psychological, and social circumstances.
Prior to this ruling, abortions were only deemed legal if they were necessary to prevent any danger to a woman's life.


In October 2018, Queensland's parliament finally decriminalised abortion, meaning women can now legally have an abortion up to 22 weeks.
For terminations after 22 weeks, two doctors must approve the procedure.
WATCH BELOW: Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad talks abortion laws. Story continues after video.

South Australia

South Australia has been ahead of the curve for a long time.
In 1969 the state legalised abortion up to 28 weeks, if two doctors agree that a woman's physical or mental health is at risk.
Abortions must be performed in a hospital or a dedicated medical facility.
However, if a woman doesn't meet the above "physical or mental risk" requirements and has an abortion, she can still be charged with a crime in SA.

Western Australia

Abortion is legal in Western Australia up to 20 weeks, with some conditions.
The law states the woman must undergo counselling by a medical practitioner, or must face serious personal, family or social consequences if the abortion is not performed, or her physical or mental health must be in severe danger.
After 20 weeks, the abortion is only legal if the fetus is likely to be born with severe defects, which has been confirmed by two doctors.

Northern Territory

Abortion is allowed in the NT up to 14 weeks with the approval of one doctor.
If the pregnancy advances to 23 weeks, the approval of two doctors is required.
Beyond that, the woman's life must be in danger for the procedure to be performed.


Abortion is legal in Tasmania in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
After 16 weeks, it is still legal, but requires the approval of two doctors.
In January 2018, the state's only dedicated abortion clinic was closed, meaning the vast majority of women seeking abortions would either have to go through the private health system or travel to the mainland to undergo the procedure.
Making things even more difficult, there are very few medical professionals in Tasmania who are able to provide abortion services.


Abortion is legal in the ACT, but it must be provided by a medical doctor in an approved medical facility.