20 November 2022

McGowan Government to reform WA’s abortion laws

Sunday, 20 November 2022
  • Public consultation has opened and will allow women and other stakeholders to have their say on key issues
  • Modernised laws to bring WA into line with other jurisdictions and provide better abortion care
  • Abortion will be fully decriminalised with the Criminal Code offence to be repealed
  • New laws will remove clinical barriers and streamline care pathways
  • Abortion care is a critical component of healthcare for women

The McGowan Government has opened a four-week consultation period to provide input on the modernisation of Western Australia's abortion laws.


Abortion laws in WA have remained unchanged for almost 25 years and some women are choosing to travel interstate to access care that is either not lawful in WA, or is a challenge to access locally.


The McGowan Government will progress legislative amendments to contemporise the provision of abortion care in WA.


Following consultation, the proposed bill will address inequity of access in line with other Australian jurisdictions and remove clinically unnecessary barriers for women accessing an abortion.


Feedback from women, providers, and stakeholders will be sought on:

  • the need for a GP referral to obtain an abortion prior to 20 weeks gestation;
  • the current mandatory counselling requirements;
  • the gestational timing of when an abortion can be accessed; and
  • the Ministerial panel and its role.

Abortion will be fully decriminalised with the Criminal Code offence to be repealed, however it will still remain an offence for an unqualified person to perform or assist with an abortion.


Following consultation, it is expected the Bill will be introduced to Parliament next year.


The online consultation can be accessed at https://consultation.health.wa.gov.au/pahd-ocho-alr/abortion-laws.


Comments attributed to Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:


"Western Australia has led the way for decades on abortion care and now is the time to modernise and update our laws.


"Safe and accessible abortions for Western Australians are important - and we want to hear from women and stakeholders on the key issues.


"It can be particularly difficult for women in regional and remote WA where access to GPs may be limited and where access to care is time critical.


"Western Australian women should not face greater barriers to healthcare than their interstate counterparts."


Comments attributed to Attorney General John Quigley:


"The criminal law has no role to play in regulating access to legitimate abortion services.


"The Criminal Code currently raises the risk for medical practitioners and patients that an abortion may be considered a criminal act if certain strict legal requirements are not met. It is entirely inappropriate that such a crucial healthcare service is dealt with in this way.


"It is time to fully decriminalise abortion in Western Australia, while ensuring that it remains the case that an unqualified person is prohibited from performing or assisting with an abortion."


Comments attributed to Women's Interests Minister Simone McGurk:


"This Government passed the safe access zone legislation last year so women can access terminations without fear of harassment and intimidation - today's announcement is another step in improving access to abortion care.


"Abortion is a fundamental part of women's healthcare - it's a right that should be fiercely protected.


"Safety, privacy, and dignity when accessing abortion is vital. I urge women to have their say to ensure the legislation remains fit for purpose."