Queensland has the most restrictive laws relating to abortion in
Australia. In Queensland, abortion is still considered a crime
under the State's criminal code (Criminal Code Act
1899 (QLD) (the Act).
Under the Act, any person who carries out, or assists with, an
abortion may be liable to criminal prosecution. This includes the
woman herself, unless continuing the pregnancy poses serious danger
to the mother's life or her physical or mental health.
Currently, women can be jailed for up to seven years and doctors
for up to 14 for contravening the relevant provisions of the
Across the rest of the country, abortion is legal albeit with
limitations on when and where the procedure can take place. In
Western Australia, an abortion is legal up to 20 weeks with some
restrictions applying to those under 16 years of age. After 20
weeks, access to abortion becomes restricted.
While abortion is still a crime for women and doctors in New
South Wales, social, economic and medical factors can be considered
and therefore access is not as restricted.
In Queensland, on 17 August 2016, Rob Pyne MP introduced the
Health (Abortion Law Reform) Amendment Bill 2016 which
seeks to establish that a woman does not commit an offence by
performing, consenting to or assisting in an abortion herself. It
also provides that only a doctor may perform an abortion and an
abortion on a woman who is more than 24 weeks pregnant may only be
performed if two doctors agree that the continuation of the
pregnancy would involve a greater risk of injury than if the
pregnancy were terminated. Further, it creates patient protection
or safe zones of at least 50 meters around any abortion
The recent spotlight on the state's abortion laws has been
ignited by a decision in April of this year, where a 12 year old
girl had to get the permission of the Queensland Supreme Court
before undergoing the procedure. In the judgment, Justice Duncan
McKeenan found it was clearly in the best interest of the girl to
administer drugs that would terminate her pregnancy (Central
Queensland Hospital and Health Service v Q  QSC 89).
However, as permission had to be granted by the court, this delayed
the abortion by a month, causing further emotional trauma.
Watch this space for updates on any changes with respect to
abortion laws in Queensland.
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