In the Australian Capital Territory, the Medical Practitioners (Maternal Health) Amendment Act 2002 allows that a person “must not carry out an abortion except in a medical facility”. Furthermore surgical and medical abortion are not differentiated, so medical abortion can only be provided in a medical facility, of which there is just one in the Territory.
We therefore cannot provide medical abortion in the Australian Capital Territory but we can in New South Wales. In NSW, under Section 82 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) it is an offence ‘for any person… to administer a drug to unlawfully procure a miscarriage’. The term ‘unlawfully’ has not been defined but, from previous legal cases, abortion is generally regarded as lawful if it is performed to avoid serious danger to the woman’s mental and physical health. Economic and social factors can be taken into account.
On 23 May 2016, Health Minister Simon Corbell said, while the government was committed to enabling women to make an informed decision and access abortion, the legislation did not differentiate between surgical and medical abortions. He has asked ACT Health for advice on the need for legislative change.