As yet, Australia does not have uniform abortion laws. The differences in laws across Australian states has meant that sometimes women have to travel interstate or overseas to terminate a pregnancy.
In New South Wales, termination of a pregnancy is deemed lawful if it is performed to protect a woman’s health, whether mental or physical. This can include any pressures the woman might face, both economically and socially.
This post outlines key points about abortion laws in New South Wales so that you can ensure you are not breaking criminal law.
When is an abortion unlawful in NSW?
If you assist, partake in, or supply instruments or medication for any of the abortion procedures below, you could face up to life in prison:
- If you unlawfully administer any drugs or use an unlawful instrument to give yourself a miscarriage, you could face 10 years’ imprisonment.
- If you partake in an abortion procedure without the correct qualifications and without lawful instruments or medicines, you can face 10 years in jail.
- If you supply any unlawful drugs or instruments for which you understand to be used in an abortion procedure, you can face up to 10 years in prison.
Under the New South Wales criminal act, abortion is only a crime if it is carried out in an unlawful fashion. Unfortunately, the abortion laws in New South Wales are not currently clear as to when an abortion is lawful or unlawful.
Complying with abortion laws in NSW
If your doctor believes that it is important for you to have an abortion to alleviate harm, stress or pressure in your life, you may be granted an abortion. A woman will not be allowed to have an abortion simply by asking. A medical professional needs to be involved in the decision.
The woman undergoing the abortion needs to be informed of any risks and complications, as well as the emotional side effects of the procedure. Abortions need to be conducted by a registered doctor in a clinic, or private or public hospital in New South Wales.
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