South Australia has become the last Australian state to decriminalise abortion. Though legal hurdles and inconsistencies in rules and regulations between the states persist, the recent passage of The Termination of Pregnancy Bill in SA signifies an important step in women’s sexual and reproductive healthcare.
Despite this step forward, women still face considerable hurdles. Uneven access to sexual health and reproductive services most often harms poorer, rural women living in underserviced areas.
The Termination of Pregnancy Bill removes abortion from the criminal law and places it within healthcare legislation. The law allows for abortions ‘on request’ up to 22 weeks and 6 days of gestation in South Australia (other states range from 16-24 weeks). After this point, it is permitted only if there is a serious mental health or life-threatening risk to the pregnant woman, or serious foetal anomalies.
The decriminalisation of abortion means that women throughout Australia can now openly discuss their options for unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, without the fear of legal consequences. Western Australia is now the only state that still places abortion under the criminal law code.
“This legislation makes explicit the higher standard of medical care and decision making that already exists in South Australia,” said Vickie Chapman, SA Attorney General.
This recent step signifies progress for women in Australia. However, often those living in rural, underserved communities, those on low income, and those of minority groups, have difficulties in accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare. It is important that the new law is evenly and fairly implemented, allowing all women to access the services they need.
For more information on the new bill and legislative reform, visit Government of South Australia, SA Health. The government paper lays out the new reforms and current practices, answers commonly asked questions, and discusses topics such as how the new legislation will protect women suffering from domestic violence and reproductive coercion.
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 RACGP.ORG: Abortion has now been decriminalised nationwide-what next?
 SAHEALTH.SA.GOV.AU: Abortion legislation reform
 THECONVERSATION.COM: Abortion is no longer a crime in Australia. But legal hurdles to access remain
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