Project Status:

Tabled in parliament

Start Date:


Tabled in Parliament Date:



Unlawful abortion had been a crime in Victoria since the state’s foundation. Despite many calls for abortion law reform, 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.

After 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. 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. Our call for community contributions led to 519 submissions.

The final report, tabled in Parliament on 28 May 2008, provided three legislative models for the decriminalisation of abortion.

The Commission also published appendices on the history of abortion law, the ethics of abortion, judicial statements on abortion and abortion from a human rights perspective.


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.

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Project Stage

  • Terms of reference received
  • Submissions and consultations
  • Submissions closed
  • Final Report
  • Tabled in parliament


Publication Date


The final report, tabled in Parliament on 28 May 2008, provided three legislative models for the decriminalisation of abortion. Read more
Publication Date


Publication Date


Appendix A:  a brief history of abortion law policy in Australia and the UK. Appendix B: a summary of ethical writings about abortion. Appendix C: judicial statements.  Appendix D: abortion from a human rights perspective.