Did you think abortion was 100% legal in Australia?
And today, doctors have made fresh calls for Australia’s complex and vague abortion laws to be ironed out and overhauled.
In an article the Medical Journal of Australia, doctors described laws in New South Wales and Queensland as “outdated” and “ambiguous”.
“It is one of the most commonly performed operations in Australia and yet it’s very much ignored by the medical profession” said co-author Caroline de Costa, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at James Cook University according to the ABC.
One in four Australian women will undergo a termination at some stage in their life – and many people assume it is completely legal. In reality, access varies from state to state.
In Queensland, for example, abortion is a crime – and only considered lawful if it prevents serious danger to a woman’s physical or mental health.
Doctors face up to 14 years in prison if they provide terminations outside of these circumstances – and as a result many Queensland doctors are reluctant to perform them.
(Earlier this year a 12-year-old girl who wanted an abortion – and whose parents supported her – was forced to go all the way to the Supreme Court to seek permission, after doctors were too nervous to perform the operation without it).
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In Victoria and the ACT, abortion is now decriminalised.
In NSW it is not; the only reason women and doctors aren’t prosecuted for abortions is because authorities have allowed generous interpretations of the law in recent years.