Advice on pregnancy and abortion is readily obtainable from medical practitioners or other health services.
From 7 July 2022 the law on abortion in South Australia is covered by the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2021 (SA). The new legislation is intended to make terminations more accessible and abolish the offences under the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA).
An abortion (termination) is the medical intervention which results in the end of a pregnancy without the birth of a child. There are two types of abortion:
In South Australia, abortions may be performed by medical practitioners acting in the ordinary course of their profession:
Early medication abortions may also be performed by registered health practitioners, including medical practitioners, administering or prescribing a drug [s 5(1)(b)].
Before performing an abortion, a practitioner is required to provide the pregnant person with information regarding access to counselling, including publicly funded counselling [s 8]. There is no obligation for a pregnant person to attend counselling.
Abortions cannot be performed for sex-selection of the child, except in limited circumstances where there is a substantial risk that the unborn child would suffer a sex-linked medical condition that would result in serious disability to the child [s 12].
There are specific rules relating to late-term abortions:
In emergency situations, where there is an immediate threat to the health of the pregnant person some requirements do not apply (such as the obligation to obtain a second medical opinion or to provide counselling information).
Some registered health practitioners may conscientiously object to performing, assisting or advising on abortions [s 11]. In these circumstances, treating medical practitioners are obliged to provide a pregnant person with contact information for another practitioner or service who they believe do not have a conscientious objection to terminations. A practitioner bears no civil liability for refusing to perform or assist in a termination or to provide advice about terminations [s 13] but are required to comply with their duties as practitioners in emergencies [s 11(5)].
Similarly, in the event that a child is born alive following an abortion, registered health practitioners are obliged to comply with their duty to provide medical care and treatment to the child [s 7].
A pregnant person has the right to safety, well-being, privacy and dignity whilst accessing abortion services, see Abortions - Safe Access Zones.
From 7 July 2022, there is no obligation for a woman to have resided in South Australia for any period of time before undergoing an abortion.
A person seeking advice or receiving pregnancy-related treatment does not need their partner or spouse's consent.
For more information about consent for:
Offences and acts of abuse
Coercing a person to terminate, or not to terminate, a pregnancy can constitute an act of abuse resulting in emotional or psychological harm pursuant to the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Act 2009 (SA) [s 8(4)]. Such acts can accordingly result in the granting of intervention orders.
It is no longer an offence to consent to, assist in or perform (including attempts to perform) an abortion on oneself [s 16].
Termination of pregnancy by unqualified person
An unqualified person (as defined by the Act) who performs a termination on another person commits an offence.
Maximum penalty: 7 years imprisonment
An unqualified person (as defined by the Act) who assists in the performance of a termination on another person commits an offence.
Maximum penalty: 5 years imprisonment
A person can only be prosecuted for a section 14 offence with the written approval of the Director of Public Prosecutions [s 15].
It is also an offence to publish information that identifies, or contains information tending to identify, a person who has sought a termination [ss 18-19].