Decriminalising Abortion in SA

On Tuesday 2 March the South Australia Parliament passed the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which decriminalises abortion and paves the way for better access to abortion care in the State.

This historic reform means that abortion is no longer treated as a crime under the SA criminal code (where it had been for more than 50 years) and is now regulated as health care under health law, policy and ethics.

The change goes a long way toward ending the stigma of abortion and recognising the right of patients to make personal decisions about their health, life and pregnancy in consultation with their doctor.

The key changes under the new law are:
* Decision for abortion under 22 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy will be a matter for the pregnant person and provided based on informed consent, no longer requiring the agreement of two doctors.
* Abortions after 22 weeks and 6 days must be considered medically appropriate (on specified grounds) by two doctors.
* Patients can be provided with EMA by a registered health practitioner, including via telehealth consultations.
* Abortion care will no longer be restricted to hospitals.
* Patients will no longer need to be SA residents for more than two months.
* Doctors who conscientiously object to abortion will need disclose their conscientious objection and refer patients seeking abortion to health professionals who can provide their abortion care.

The House of Assembly made several amendments to the Bill, including:
– a ban on sex selective abortion
– a requirement that doctors who perform abortions must give information about counselling to all abortion patients, whether or not a patient is interested
– specified conditions on which abortions can be performed after 22 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy, including to save a life, or where there is significant risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the patient or significant fetal abnormality
– changes to the conscientious objection and doctor referral requirements.

saaac believes these amendments were unnecessary and only continue to stigmatise abortion. However, the new legislation brings South Australian abortion care into the 21st century, and we look forward to its positive impact on sexual and reproductive health care. 

We are grateful to the many Parliamentarians from all sides who supported the Bill. Find out who they are and whether your MP was among them.

Want to know more?
Look at the Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2020 as passed by the House of Assembly on 2 March 2021.