Abortion

Abortion

In Victoria, Abortion is found in section 65 of the Crimes Act 1958. It is a criminal offence that is committed by an unqualified person who has performed an abortion, or by a person who has aborted their own pregnancy.

Have you been accused of Abortion?

Police Interview
The purpose of the police interview from the prosecution’s perspective is to elicit admissions from you that prove you either performed an abortion without holding the requisite qualifications or you aborted your own pregnancy without formal medical assistance.
 
It is extremely important prior to interview to engage a lawyer as soon as you become aware that police want to interview you so that you receive the correct information about what you should or should not be saying to police about the circumstances. Each case comes with a different set of facts and therefore a different approach, so it is beneficial to seek the opinion of a criminal law specialist about how you should approach the interview. Our lawyers can also advise you of what to expect so you are not caught off guard by the interview process.

Our lawyers regularly attend Police interviews with clients to make sure our clients do not say anything they shouldn’t. You may find it comforting having someone their on your side looking after your best interest.

Pleading Not Guilty
Conducting an illegal abortion or performing one on yourself is considered a serious offence, so it is important to seek legal advice early in order for you to be made aware of the ways in which you could successfully contest the charge. Our lawyers approach contested hearings pro-actively and look for evidence which the police may have over looked. Our lawyers will consider the following questions:

  • Is the police brief of evidence complete?
  • Are there any witnesses who police have not spoken to?
  • Is there medical evidence which could shed light on the allegations?
Pleading Guilty
In cases in which women have performed their own abortions, there are often surrounding circumstances that go a long way to explain the reasoning behind the act. These explanations are crucial in telling the Court about why you might’ve felt pressured to abort your baby, for example in cases of sexual assault or unwanted pregnancy. The Court puts great weight on the background to offending, so it is important you engage a lawyer who knows what is and isn’t helpful in presenting your plea of guilty.

If you decide to plead guilty to performing an illegal Abortion, our lawyers can advise you what the best approach is to get the best possible outcome in Court. Your plea hearing may be the single most important event in your life and you should not leave it to chance.
  • A pregnant person drinks poison to cause a miscarriage, and then miscarries.
  • Someone who is not a doctor, pharmacist, or nurse performs an abortion.
  • A doctor, pharmacist, or nurse performs an abortion on a patient who is more than 24 weeks pregnant, and a second medical practitioner didn’t agree that that the abortion was in the patient’s best interest.

  • There was no pregnancy.
  • There was no intention that the pregnant person miscarry.
  • The abortion was necessary to save someone from the risk of serious illness or death.
There are other possible defences, depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending. Each matter is unique and requires an individual approach and strategy.

Questions in cases like this:
  • How do they prove you intended to cause a miscarriage?
  • Did the abortion prevent the risk of serious illness or death?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with this charge

The maximum penalty for Abortion (s65 of the Crimes Act 1958) is level 5 imprisonment (10 years).

This type of offence is generally heard in the County Court.

The section that covers this offence is section 65 of the Crimes Act 1958.

What is the legal definition of Abortion?
If a person is less than 24 weeks pregnant, an abortion is illegal in two basic circumstances. The first is when it is performed by an ‘unqualified’ person: a person who is not a qualified medical practitioner, a pharmacist, or a nurse. The second is when someone intentionally terminates their own pregnancy.

If a person is more than 24 weeks pregnant, then an abortion con only be performed by a qualified medical practitioner, pharmacist, or nurse when a second medical practitioner agrees it is in the best interests of the patient.

“Was the abortion necessary to save someone from serious illness?”

What can you be sentenced to for this charge?
There is a maximum penalty of level 6 imprisonment (10 years) for an Illegal Abortion.

Illegal Abortion is a very serious offence that will normally mean that you will serve a prison term if you are found guilty of being an unqualified person performing an abortion to another.

Performing an abortion on yourself is likely to be considered less serious, and may result in a range of sentences from a Without Conviction Order to a Community Corrections Order.