Law Reform Institute to consider abortion law reform

South Australia’s independent Law Reform Institute based at Adelaide of University has been asked by the State Government to consider changes to the State’s abortion laws with a view to improve access and modernise the practice in the State and with a view to making abortion a regulated medical procedure under health legislation as opposed to a criminal law issue.

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman said the move was being undertaken as part of a broader review of abortion laws in South Australia, taking into account the wide views of the community.

“The fact is that it’s been four decades since our abortion laws were first enacted,” Ms Chapman said.

“Since then, there have been significant advancements in medical technology, and a significant shift in community attitudes.

“While I thank Tammy Franks MLC for her advocacy on this issue, it is my opinion that the Private Members Bill that is currently before the house is too broad and fails to adequately regulate these medical procedures, which is critical to get right from the outset.

“As with any Bill of this nature, there will be no formal Government position and will ultimately be a conscience vote for members of the Government.

“Instead of supporting this ultimately flawed Bill, I am of the view that a referral to the Law Reform Institute is the most appropriate way to determine how South Australian laws could best be updated and brought in line with those in other jurisdictions, particularly regional access and investigating the current outdated criminal law.”

Ms Chapman said that, as part of their considerations, the Law Reform Institute will consult and research widely and will travel to key regional areas such as Mount Gambier, the Riverland, Whyalla and Port Lincoln to consult with both communities and health providers.

“This is a complicated area, and access to services can vary from region to region,” Ms Chapman said.

“As such, it’s important that we hear the views of regional communities – to ensure that the Law Reform Institute fully appreciates how the current laws apply, not just in regional areas, but across South Australia.”

Ms Chapman said the Law Reform Institute was expected to finalise its report within the next six months.