skip to content

Refine results

Search by

Search by Algolia
Law Handbook banner image


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:

  • Early medication abortions – where the termination takes place by the provision of medication only. The South Australian Perinatal Practice Guideline – Termination of Pregnancy in the First Trimester provides further information about early medication abortions, in particular that the relevant medication has been approved for use up to 9 weeks (63 days) pregnant (at July 2022).
  • Surgical abortions – where the termination occurs as a result of a procedure performed by a qualified medical practitioner.

In South Australia, abortions may be performed by medical practitioners acting in the ordinary course of their profession:

  • On a person who is not more than 22 weeks and 6 days pregnant [s 5]; and
  • On a person who is more than 22 weeks and 6 days pregnant (‘late-term abortion’) if two medical practitioners consider that, in all the circumstances [ss 5-6]:
    • the termination is necessary to save the life of the pregnant person or another foetus;
    • the continuation of the pregnancy would involve significant risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant person; or
    • there is a case, or significant risk, of serious foetal anomalies associated with the pregnancy.

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:

  • Each medical practitioner, when considering whether the termination is medically appropriate, must consider [ss 6(2), 9]:
    • all relevant medical circumstances; and
    • the professional standards and guidelines that apply to the medical practitioner in relation to the performance of the termination; and
    • the mandatory considerations in section 9.
  • They must be performed at a prescribed hospital [s 5(1)]. The Termination of Pregnancy Regulations 2022 (SA) set out a list of the prescribed hospitals, which include both public and private hospitals in metropolitan and rural areas, as well as the Pregnancy Advisory Centre [Schedule 1].

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.

For more information, see the SA Health page on Abortions. For further assistance regarding abortions, including support services, please contact the SA Health Pregnancy Advisory Centre on 7117 8999.


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

[s 14(1)]

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

[s 14(2)]

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].

Abortions  :  Last Revised: Wed Jul 6th 2022
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.