South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI)

SALRI is an independent and non-partisan law reform body, based at the University of Adelaide. SALRI can only make recommendations for law reform, it cannot change the law. It is up to the South Australian Government and the Parliament to accept any recommendation from SALRI and determine whether any laws or practices should change.

Fact sheets

Fact sheet 1: Background Information

Further information about SALRI and scope of the review. view fact sheet

Fact sheet 2: History

In Australia, the original law relating to abortion was contained in each colony’s criminal laws. Such legislation was (and is still) based (to varying degrees) on the UK Offences against the Person Act 1861 which set out that ‘every Woman, being with Child, or other person who, with Intent to procure a Miscarriage, shall unlawfully administer any Poison or other noxious Thing, or shall unlawfully use any Instrument or other Means whatsoever, with Intent to procure the Miscarriage of any Woman, shall be guilty of Felony’. Find out more about the history of our abortion laws. view fact sheet

Fact sheet 3: Terminology

This fact sheet lists definitions of terminology used in other fact sheets, and will be used throughout the process of this review. view fact sheet

Fact sheet 4: Health regulation

SALRI’s terms of reference is to make enquires in to abortion being approached as a regulated health issue as opposed to a criminal law issue but the question remains of if, or in what circumstances, does there remain a valid role for the criminal law, notably whether unqualified or unlicensed persons conducting medical or surgical terminations should be subject to appropriate offences. view fact sheet

Fact sheet 5: Termination and the criminal justice system

The present specific offences dealing with termination of pregnancy in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) (the ‘CLCA’) date from 1969. The present law prohibits a pregnant woman or ‘any person’ from unlawfully administering a drug or unlawfully using an instrument upon, respectively, herself or a pregnant woman with intent to procure an abortion. The maximum penalty imposed for this offence is imprisonment for life. It is also an offence for a person to unlawfully supply or procure a drug or instrument knowing that it is intended to be unlawfully used or employed with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, whether or not she is pregnant. The maximum penalty for this offence is three years imprisonment. view fact sheet

Fact sheet 6: Termination and the law in Australia

The law in Australia relating to abortions, and who can perform them, is divided between the Commonwealth, States and Territories. This reflects the federal nature of the Australian Constitution. Given this, there is no single consistent law in Australia governing abortion. The State and Territory Parliaments have the main legal power and responsibility to regulate abortion arrangements in Australia. All States and Territories have various laws and procedures relating to abortion. view fact sheet and table of regulatory approaches to termination in Australian jurisdictions

Fact sheet 7: Access to services

The present law in South Australia may make access to abortion more difficult and costly for rural and regional women. This is related to the number of regional centres able to provide the service, the availability of medical practitioners in these areas and the restrictions which prevent the use of telehealth services. The ‘prescribed hospital’ clause may disadvantage women in rural, regional and remote South Australia by requiring travel to facilities a significant distance from their home in order to access abortion services and care. view fact sheet

Fact sheet 8: Termination and Current medical practices

There are currently two types of common abortion procedures available to South Australian residents, early medication abortion and surgical abortion. Both procedures are considered safe and severe complications are said to be rare. There is a further abortion procedure performed for late term abortions only which is known as a Medical Abortion. This procedure involves the administration of medication to terminate the pregnancy and induce a still birth. view fact sheet

Fact sheet 9: Late term terminations

Currently in South Australia the term ‘late term abortion’ or ‘late term termination’ refers to any abortion procedure which occurs after 22 weeks gestation. Late term abortions are generally considered differently to early medication and surgical abortions which occur prior to 22 weeks of gestation due to the increased risks involved in the procedure and due to the increasing viability of the foetus. view fact sheet

Fact sheet 10: Safe access zones

The availability and regulation of medical services associated with the termination of pregnancy can provoke strong views in the community. Some individuals and groups are motivated to engage in activities that may include holding prayer vigils, intervening to offer ‘footpath counselling’, or protesting at or near premises performing terminations. The behaviour of individuals or groups involved in these activities can at times impact on the safety, dignity, privacy and welfare of women seeking access to medical services or staff who are employed at these premises. There have been concerns that the safety and wellbeing of patients and staff have been jeopardised by intimidation and harassment from protestors. view fact sheet and table of safe access zones in Australian jurisdictions

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