Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023 - Sexual Health Quarters
Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
Make A Donation

Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023

What does it mean for providers and service users in Western Australia?

The Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023 passed the WA Parliament on 21st September 2023, receiving Royal Assent on 27th September 2023.

It is expected that the legislation will take approximately 6 months to implement, meaning Western Australia’s abortion laws will remain unchanged until late March/early April 2024.

Abortion Laws in Western Australia

Click image for full size

Image Text

Prior to the implementation of the Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023 (current)

  • Abortion is still regulated under the WA Criminal Code.
  • People seeking abortion need to obtain a doctor’s referral to an abortion service provider.
  • People accessing an abortion are required to receive counselling on the medical risk of termination of pregnancy and of carrying the pregnancy to term by a medical practitioner other than the one performing the procedure.
  • Clinicians can refuse to refer or assist people seeking abortion care on the basis of conscientious objection to abortion.
  • Pregnant people can access an abortion up to 20 weeks gestation without additional restrictions.
  • People seeking an abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation need to obtain a referral from their medical practitioner and be approved by two doctors appointed to a Ministerial panel.
  • Doctors with appropriate qualifications and training can provide medical abortions.
  • A mature minor seeking abortion care must either inform a parent or guardian or apply to the Children’s Court for permission not to inform a parent or guardian.

After the implementation of the Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023 (March/April 2024)

  • Abortion is fully decriminalised and regulated under the WA Health Act, with the exception of an offence provision governing the performance of an abortion by an unqualified person.
  • No health practitioners other than the one providing the procedure is required to be involved in abortion care.
  • People are not required to receive counselling prior to accessing an abortion.
  • Clinicians with a conscientious objection to abortion are required to immediately disclose their objection, transfer care to a health practitioner or facility that they reasonably believe can provide abortion services or provide information approved by the Chief Health Officer to enable access to treatment elsewhere. They must also provide abortion care in an emergency. Students in a relevant health profession who conscientiously object to abortion must disclose their conscientious objection to abortion to their supervising person immediately after the supervising person asks them to assist in the performance of an abortion on a person.
  • Pregnant people can access an abortion up to 23 weeks gestation without additional restrictions.
  • A Primary medical practitioner is authorised to perform an abortion for a patient with a fetus of gestational age of more than 23 weeks if they reasonably believe that performing the abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances and have consulted with at least one other medical practitioner who also holds that reasonable belief.
  • Any healthcare practitioner with appropriate qualifications and training can provide medical abortions.
  • The competence of a person under 16 years seeking an abortion can be determined by their health practitioner without the involvement of any other parties. A mature minor can consent to their own medical treatment, the same as an adult, provided they have been deemed capable of doing so.

What can health professionals do to prepare for the new legislation?

  • It is important that all referring doctors and abortion care providers follow the current legislation until the Abortion Legislation Reform Bill 2023 is fully implemented. 
  • SHQ offers a range of clinical education courses designed to assist clinicians in developing their ability to address the sexual health needs of their patients.  
  • While online training is no longer a requirement to prescribe MS2-Step, it is important that practitioners seek support from those with significant experience, and/or complete some training before providing medical abortions to minimise the risk of complications. 
  • We are currently developing medical abortion training for practitioners interested in building the confidence and skills to provide this service. You can register your interest by emailing [email protected] 
  • You can currently receive training on the prescription of MS2-Step from the drug manufacturer at no cost link. 
  • Register for SHQ’s Unintended Pregnancy Counselling Training. 
  • For updates on the impending reforms and upcoming education and training at SHQ you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn and subscribe to our monthly enewsletter, the SHQ Review.