Is Abortion Legal in Australia?

As discussed previously, abortions are common and are safe when performed lawfully by a medical practitioner. Regardless of the slow campaign to decriminalise abortion, not all states in Australia are created equal. It is important to know, the laws in your state.

New South Wales

Illegal abortion is a serious crime in NSW and is punishable to ten years imprisonment. Medical professionals are permitted to perform abortions based on mental, physical health and economic bases.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT is the only state / territory in Australia to legalise abortion and proactively protect patient’s privacy. There are safe access zones; where it is illegal to obstruct or harass one entering or having an abortion in an approved medical facility.

Northern Territory

NT have limitations based on how far along a woman is in her pregnancy. Medical practitioners can perform abortions before 14 weeks, based on psychological, physical or social grounds. Between 14 and 23 weeks gestation, other doctors agree.


Queenslanders can only perform medical abortions in exceptional circumstances based on mental health and physical justifications.

South Australia

In SA abortion laws are quite stringent. Abortion within South Australia can be punishable up to life in prison. The laws state that two doctors must deem the abortion necessary based on mental or physical health bases or for any foetal anomalies. The woman must have held residence for a minimum of two months and be no greater than 28 weeks pregnant. The abortion must take place in a prescribed hospital.


Women up to 16 weeks gestational, living in Tasmania can legally undergo an abortion by a medical practitioner. After 16 weeks, the requirement is for two doctors to consider it necessary, based on mental and physical health grounds. Again, there are safe zones provisioned.


In Victoria a woman up to 24 weeks can request an abortion legally. After 24 weeks, it is necessary for two medical practitioners to consent via physical, social or psychological grounds. Registered nurses and pharmacists can medically administer an abortion before 24 weeks.

Western Australia

Medical practitioners can perform lawful abortion when performed before 20 weeks pregnancy. After that period, two medical professionals must agree that the foetus or pregnant woman has a severe medical condition. If the abortion is requested from a minor, those under 16 years of age, the parent must be contacted.

As you can see, Australian laws differ from state to state, gestational limits and residential address can affect the legality of the abortion. In most circumstances, the final decision in most cases, is up to the Doctor.

If you need further clarification or have questions, please contact the staff at Blue Water Medical for more information.