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

  • 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.