– section 65 of the Crimes Act 1958

Illegal abortion is used when the Police think that an unqualified person has performed an abortion or when someone aborts their own pregnancy.

Examples of Abortion
  • 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.
What are possible defences to an Abortion charge?
  • 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 this offence is level 5 imprisonment (10 years).

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

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


The section that covers this offence is section 65 of the Crimes Act 1958.1

prison penalty sentencing

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.

Other Important Resources


[1] Crimes Act 1958 – Section 65

(1) A person who is not a qualified person must not perform an abortion on another person.
Penalty: Level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).
(2) A woman who consents to, or assists in, the performance of an abortion on herself is not guilty of an offence against this section.
(3) For the purposes of this section—
(a) a registered medical practitioner is a qualified person; and(b) a registered pharmacist or registered nurse is a qualified person only for the purpose of performing an abortion by administering or supplying a drug or drugs in accordance with the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008.
(4) In this section—
“abortion” has the same meaning as in the Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 ;
“perform an abortion” includes supply or procure the supply of any drug or other substance knowing that it is intended to be used to cause an abortion;