In September 2007 the government provided terms of reference to the Commission for legislative advice on the decriminalisation of terminations of pregnancy.
The Commission published an information paper in September 2007.
The Commission held more than 30 meetings with people involved in abortion law reform from the beginning of October until mid-November 2007. These included faith groups, public and private abortion providers, academics, health service providers, women’s organisations and peak medical bodies. Meetings were also held with youth and disability service providers to discuss the particular issues abortion law reform raises for these groups.
A panel of medical experts, with backgrounds in gynaecology, obstetrics, paediatrics, genetic science, midwifery and counselling, was established to provide advice on current clinical practice. Two academic lawyers also acted as consultants to the commission.
519 submissions were received.
The Commission's final report was tabled in Parliament on 28 May 2008. The report provided three legislative models for the decriminalisation of abortion.
In August 2008, a Bill was introduced in Parliament that reflected Model B in the Commission’s report. All parties allowed members of Parliament to make a conscience vote. The Bill was passed in October 2008.
The Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 decriminalised abortion. Under the Act, a woman can access abortion up to a gestational limit of 24 weeks. Beyond the 24 weeks, a medical practitioner can provide an abortion if another medical practitioner agrees that an abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances.
Medical practitioners who object to abortion do not have to provide information to a client, but are required to refer the client to another doctor who can provide the information.