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Abortion and the law

In Australia, abortion is legal in all states and territories under certain circumstances and when it is done by a registered doctor.

In NSW, abortion was removed from the Crimes Act of 1900 in October 2019 with the passage of the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019. Doctors in NSW are able to perform an abortion, with your informed consent, up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

After 22 weeks of pregnancy, abortions must occur in a hospital or approved health facility by a specialist doctor who has consulted with another doctor.

Only you and your doctor have the right to decide whether abortion is the best option for you. Informed consent means agreeing once you understand the procedure and its possible risks and complications.

Under the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019, abortion cannot be provided for the sole purpose of sex selection and referrals cannot be provided to abortion services for this reason.

The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 also requires that a medical practitioner (such as a GP) who declines to perform or assist with the abortion, must:

  • Give information to the person about how to locate or contact a medical practitioner who does not have a conscientious objection, or
  • Transfer the person’s care to another registered health practitioner or to another health service who can provide the termination and does not have a conscientious objection.

Registered medical practitioners can meet their requirements by directing women to the Pregnancy Choices Helpline on 1800 008 463 or the Pregnancy Choices website.

If you feel your doctor has not done this, you can make a complaint via the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission or the Australian Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).