South Australia yesterday became the latest state to enact laws decriminalising abortion. For almost a decade, more than three-quarters of Australians have agreed that abortion should be legal and accessible. And it is, apart from in Western Australia. But there is still no nationally uniform legislation.
Between states, requirements differ for women accessing abortions, doctors referring or providing them, and support personnel, as do permissible timeframes for termination and the number of doctors required to sign off on it. Within states, it’s a postcode lottery.
One of the biggest differences between states and territories is gestational limits on abortion, after which a doctor (often plural) needs to stamp their approval. In the ACT and Tasmania, abortions are only legal up to 16 weeks of gestation, while in NSW and Queensland it's up to 22 weeks. The Northern Territory allows abortion later than any other state at 24 weeks, while South Australia allows it up until 22 weeks and six days.