Unlawful abortion had been a crime in Victoria since the state's foundation. Despite many calls for the law's reform to accord with changing values and technology, the Victorian Parliament permitted the offence to remain on the statute book unchanged since 1865. In September 2007, the government provided terms of reference to the Commission for legislative advice on the decriminalisation of terminations of pregnancy.

Following the publication of an information paper in September 2007, the Commission held more than 30 meetings with people involved in abortion law reform. These included faith groups, public and private abortion providers, academics, health service providers, women’s organisations and peak medical bodies. We also held meetings with youth and disability service providers to discuss the particular issues abortion law reform raises for these groups. To provide advice and information about clinical practice, we set up a panel of medical experts with backgrounds in gynaecology, obstetrics, paediatrics, genetic science, midwifery and counselling. Two academic lawyers were also consulted the commission. Our call for community contibutions led to 519 submissions.

From this comprehensive research and consultation process, the Commission's final report, tabled in Parliament on 28 May 2008, provided three legislative models for the decriminalisation of abortion.


In August 2008, a Bill was introduced in Parliament that reflected Model B in the Commission’s report. All parties allowed members of Parliament to make a conscience vote and the Bill was passed in October 2008.

The Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 decriminalised abortion. Under the Act, a woman can access abortion up to a gestational limit of 24 weeks. Beyond that, a medical practitioner can provide an abortion if another medical practitioner agrees that an abortion is appropriate in all the circumstances.

Medical practitioners who object to abortion do not have to provide information to a client, but are required to refer the client to another doctor who can provide the information.


Current: Table in parliament

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Project Publications

Law of Abortion: Final Report (pdf)

Tabled in Parliament in May 2008, the Commission's final report on the law of abortion provides three options to the government for the...

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Law of Abortion: Recommendations

In August 2007, the Commission was asked to provide the government with advice on options for decriminalising terminations of pregnancy. The report...

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Law of Abortion: final report (html version)

Tabled in Victorian Parliament on 28 May 2008, the Commission's report on abortion law reform provided three models for decriminalisation. A Bill...

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Law of Abortion: Information Paper

Released in September 2007, the information paper for the abortion reference, available in PDF below, includes:   the terms of reference information...

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Law of Abortion: Terms of Reference

In September 2007 the Attorney-General asked the Commission to provide advice about options to: 1. Clarify the existing operation of the law in...

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