Abortion Has Finally Been Decriminalised In Every State And Territory In Australia

Abortion is officially legal in every state and territory of Australia, as new laws in Western Australia have finally come into effect. Huge!

WA was the final state to hold out, only passing the Abortion Legislation Reform Bill in September last year. However, until today, actions related to abortion access remained a criminal offence in the state.

As well as removing abortion from the Criminal Code, further changes will remove other harmful barriers to care. Patients will no longer have to undergo mandatory counselling, will not need the approval of multiple doctors, and doctors with a conscientious objection must now respect their patient’s right to healthcare.

The new laws will also increase the gestational limit from 20 to 23 weeks, and allow trained nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives to prescribe abortion medication.

The laws were passed in the WA parliament in September last year. Image: Getty.

Executive Director of gender equality campaign group Fair Agenda Renee Carr said it was a national milestone.

“It’s hard to believe that we’re celebrating the official nationwide decriminalisation of abortion care access for patients in 2024. But unfortunately we can never take our reproductive rights for granted,” she said.

“This milestone has only been possible as the result of decades of advocacy by women, healthcare professionals, community members and advocates around the country, who have bravely and relentlessly spoken out on this issue.”

However, she also said “major barriers” remain and more needed to be done to ensure everybody can access the care they need.

“Too many patients can’t rely on their public hospital for care, can’t easily find a healthcare service they can turn to in their area, or have to find $500 on short-notice in order to cover the out-of-pocket costs,” she said.

“Legislative modernisation is one significant step towards improving health access in regional, rural and remote areas. But it is unrealistic to think that our current health system has the capacity to address Australia’s reproductive healthcare needs.”

There’s no doubt this is a huge step in the right direction. But until everybody can freely and easily access the care they need, more work needs to be done. Hopefully this just makes those next steps much easier.