Abortion/Termination of Pregnancy
Terminating a pregnancy through medical channels is not a crime, although there is still a stigma attached to terminating a pregnancy. Amendments to the Criminal Code have seen a pro-choice alignment in the legislature, which validates women’s rights, and the right to choose. Control of child birth and fertility is a major issue in women’s rights, and since 2001 Tasmania has had pro-choice legislation.
If you are considering an abortion, and are conflicted about the issue, there are numerous resources available online. Your GP can also provide advice, and referral to counselling services. You can also contact Family Planning Tasmania. This is a government funded service, it provides unbiased information on all aspects of decision making around pregnancy. See the booklets available from Family Planning Tasmania. Contact details are also available on this website.
On the 24 December 2001, the Criminal Code Amendment Act (No. 2) of 2001 received the royal assent. That Act protected from prosecution any doctor who performed an abortion before the passage of the Act.
Recent amendments under the Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Bill 2013 has altered the law significantly, reflecting a progressive agenda. As of November 2013, abortion was decriminalised entirely, and removed from the Criminal Code. The Reproductive Health (Access to Terminations) Act 2013 at section 4 stipulates that ‘the pregnancy of a woman who is not more than 16 weeks pregnant may be terminated by a medical practitioner with the woman’s consent.’
If the pregnancy has progressed beyond the 16 week point, the termination can only take place, with the woman’s consent if two criteria are met. These are that the medical practitioner:
(a) reasonably believes that the continuation of the pregnancy would involve greater risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman than if the pregnancy were terminated; and
(b) has consulted with another medical practitioner who reasonably believes that the continuation of the pregnancy would involve greater risk of injury to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman than if the pregnancy were terminated.
These requirements previously applied to all terminations, and now only apply past the 16 week point of gestation.
Other Aspects of the Act
The Act has placed obligations on medical practitioners who are conscientious objectors to termination. There is no obligation on a medical practitioner to perform a termination where they have a conscientious objection, except in the case of a medical emergency threatening serious physical harm to or the life of the pregnant woman (s6). If a woman seeks advice on the full range of options open to her regarding the outcome of her pregnancy, and the consulted medical practitioner or counsellor has a conscientious objection to providing advice on termination, there is a requirement that they refer the pregnant woman to a full list of prescribed health services where she may receive such information (s7).