With the overturning of the landmark legal decision that allowed Americans the constitutional right to access abortion, eyes have turned to Australia and questions have been posed as to whether this can lead to similar decisions here.
Currently, Australians have legal access to abortions in all but one state, with South Australia’s laws of access coming into effect in the coming month. This means that the legal system recognises the fundamental choice of abortion, and has decriminalised this act. Similar to how America is now, in Australia, abortion is not a constitutional right, and it is up to the states and territories to have their own laws surrounding access to abortion.
The Australian states and territories have varying laws on the gestation period in which abortion is legal, with Tasmania only allowing abortion in the first 16 weeks of gestation. NSW and Queensland allow up to 22 weeks of gestation before a pair of doctors must rule that it is required. Western Australia allows up to 20 weeks of gestation before a panel of six doctors must deem it necessary. The Northern territory allow up to 24 weeks of gestation before a pair of doctors must deem it necessary. The ACT unlike the other states have no laws about the regarding a gestation period.
Australia’s clear abortion laws has not stopped people fearing an overturning of law similarly to the US, with their decision acting as a reminder of how quickly rights can be taken away. The fact that over the years there have been many attempts from politicians to overturn the access to abortion in Australia leaves Australians with concern that we will follow in the footsteps of the US.
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