Western Australia will fully decriminalise abortion after laws passed State Parliament on Wednesday.
The legislation was introduced to Parliament in June. It was backed by WA’s majority Labor Government, but also received some cross-party support.
What’s changing in WA?
The changes will mean abortion falls under the existing health legislation, instead of the Criminal Code.
The changes also mean abortions will be allowed up to 23 weeks gestation, instead of 20 weeks.
Previous abortion legislation also required that two professionals be present during an abortion. Under the changes, most abortions can now be performed by one provider.
Another change is that a doctor was previously required to offer counselling to their patient before performing an abortion. This will now be scrapped.
New patient support processes will also be introduced.
Health providers who object to an abortion will be required to help patients access the procedure elsewhere, bringing WA in line with all other states and territories.
Abortion laws in Australia
Once the WA reforms are enacted, abortion (in some form) will be fully decriminalised in every state and territory.
Gestational limits on abortions (i.e. how many weeks before the procedure requires additional approval) vary.
There’s no gestational limit for abortions in the ACT, however, the territory’s abortion clinic is not equipped to perform abortions beyond 16 weeks. Abortions up to 16 weeks were made free in April in the ACT.