Do you know what the South Australian law says about abortion?
You may have heard or read about the commotion that abortion laws are currently causing in the United States. It’s a hotly contested issue with several Republican states passing restrictive laws making abortions illegal from when a fetal heartbeat is detected – as early as 6 weeks in some cases. These laws directing contradict the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v Wade legalizing abortion in America.
South Australia’s laws on the issue of abortion is decades old. The Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) at Sections 81 – 82A in summary states that:
- Women can only have surgical abortions if they are less than 23 weeks pregnant;
- An abortion must be approved by 2 doctors;
- Medical practitioners can decline their services in the context of an abortion on the basis of a conscientious objection – unless it is an emergency situation;
- Medical practitioners cannot authorize or prescribe early medication abortion (such as the morning after pill) – punishable by a possible term of imprisonment of up to 3 years;
- There are no safe access zones – Tasmania and Victoria have created laws creating safe access zones around abortion clinics preventing anti-abortionists from targeting patients, staff and others within a specific radius on abortion clinics;
- Women can only access abortions in South Australia if they have lived in the state for more than 2 months – meaning women in Broken Hill, Mildura or even Casterton if we are thinking closer to home cannot access these services in the State;
Wow, right? The mere fact that abortion laws form part of our CRIMINAL LEGISLATION with criminal penalties including jail in this day and age seems hugely out of step with common practice and opinion whether you agree with a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion or not.
In what will hopefully be a positive step, the issue is under review this year of the South Australian Parliament after a 2018 Bill was tendered by Greens politician Tammy Franks on the topic. Attorney General Vickie Chapman has initiated University of Adelaide’s South Australian Law Reform Institute to run online surveys and gauge community opinion on the issue with the results available in August. Once the consultation process is complete, the hope is that this issue will move from the criminal sphere into regulated medical practice.
If you want to be involved in the survey – you can answer the 10 questions here.
Ebony Cunningham – Senior Associate
Ebony graduated with Honours in a Bachelor of Law and Legal Practice and a Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology) in 2011.
Ebony specialises in the areas of family law, criminal law and civil litigation. Ebony is a member of the complex criminal panel and the family law general panel for the Legal Services Commission of South Australia.
(08) 8725 6969
Legal Secretary: Ms Lauren Lewis