This comes in contrast to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overruled Roe v. Wade, which imposed abortion on-demand nationwide in the U.S. for nearly 50 years.
The Termination of Pregnancy Bill decriminalized abortion in South Australia. The law allows for elective abortions up to 22 weeks and six days into pregnancy.
After that point, a woman seeking abortion must get approval from two healthcare providers for an abortion, which could take place to avoid alleged risk to the mother’s “physical or mental health,” for fetal abnormalities, or if “necessary” to save the life of the mother.
Abortion can be performed by either a doctor or a nurse in the case of chemical abortion on demand.
The new law also allows for abortions to be performed outside of hospitals, allowing for telehealth consultations that would ship abortion pills either to local pharmacies for pickup or directly through the mail.
Under previous law, abortions could only be performed in select hospitals, usually in Adelaide, the capitol of South Australia. Patients seeking abortion had to live in South Australia for two months before seeking the abortion, and the abortion had to be approved by two doctors who had to agree that the pregnancy posed a risk to the mother’s physical and mental health. The doctors also had to agree that the baby was not “severely handicapped.”
South Australia is the latest state in Australia to decriminalize abortion. In 2019, New South Wales decriminalized abortion, leaving South Australia and Western Australia the only Australian states to have abortion after a certain period criminalized. Abortion remains criminalized in Western Australia after 20 weeks of pregnancy, after which time two doctors must agree that the mother or the child have a medical condition that “necessitates” abortion.
Polling taken in 2019 shows that almost 60% of Australians support abortion, according to data taken from the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre.
Reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs
Protests broke out in Australia after the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs. The largest rally took place in Melbourne, where 15,000 people gathered to protest the ruling.
“We are here to stand up for women’s rights in Australia and around the world. Millions of women in the United States have had their rights stripped from them and we are angry about that,” said Liz Walsh, who helped organize the protest in Melbourne.
Reacting to the Court’s ruling, Australian Minister of Health Katy Gallagher said “I think the message to me from that decision in America was the need to remain vigilant because hard-fought-for wins before our parliament can be taken away easily.“
Speaking to the Washington Post, Daile Kelleher, CEO of Children by Choice, a pro-abortion group, said about abortion after the ruling “It never really gets a lot of attention, and this is the most attention that it’s gotten.” “This is probably a bit of a watershed moment in Australia where people are showing that they care about this,” Kelleher continued.
Also speaking to the Post, Brigid Coombe, co-convener of the South Australian Abortion Action Coalition said “[The decision] certainly made the public sit up and take notice.”
Protests in the United States also broke out after the ruling. A protest attempted to force its way into the Arizona State House and the Arizona Senate was forced to adjourn for security concerns.
Pro-abortion terrorist group Jane’s Revenge has taken responsibility for much of the violence. Congressional Republicans sent a letter to the Department of Justice petitioning that Jane’s Revenge be labeled a domestic terrorist group last month. A California man also traveled to Maryland to try to assassinate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of the leak.
In the United States, several states have banned abortion with trigger laws following the Dobbs ruling last month, and at least 46 abortion clinics have closed nationwide, including Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the clinic at the center of the Court’s decision.
Legal challenges have been made to stop the implementation of some laws. In Louisiana and Utah, judges temporarily blocked their states’ trigger laws pending lawsuits from abortion providers. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s pre-Roe abortion ban could take effect after a legal challenge briefly put a halt to it, and a law limiting abortion in Florida has been allowed to be enforced after Governor Ron DeSantis appealed an order blocking it.