Abortion is no longer a criminal offence in Western Australia, following the passing of updated laws around the termination of pregnancies.
The abortion reforms, updating 25-year-old legislation, passed WA parliament on Wednesday night.
Among a slew of changes, including the removal of abortion-related matters from the state’s criminal code, is women no longer needing a doctor’s referral for termination services, essentially meaning they have one fewer doctor to deal with.
Mandatory counselling has also been scrapped, as well as ministerial and panel approval for later-term abortions.
Premier Roger Cook told the media on Thursday the changes remove unnecessary clinical barriers.
“We’ve taken an important step forward, and I’m really pleased to see these socially-progressive laws now in place,” Mr Cook said.
The gestation time for late-term abortions has also been increased from 20 weeks to 23 weeks.
Upper House leader Sue Ellery says that makes it easier on women whose foetuses develop abnormalities, most of which won’t present until between 18-22 weeks.
“For many of them involved in a small number of late-term abortions … it’s a very difficult decision, it’s an awful time,” Ms Ellery said.
“And making sure they can access those services here, in Western Australia, as opposed to having to fly interstate, which we know many of them were doing.”
Other changes to the legislation allow medical practitioners to refuse treatment on ground of conscientious objection.
However, they do still need to transfer the patient to another service provider, or give them information on how to seek treatment.
And despite the act of abortion being decriminalised, it is still an offence for an unqualified person to provide termination services.
The laws bring WA in-line with most other states and territories.