Notification of termination of pregnancy
To comply with the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019, details of each termination of pregnancy must be submitted to the NSW Ministry of Health within 28 days via the
secure online notification system
In rare circumstances where internet access is unavailable, a
PDF notification form is permitted. To ensure the accuracy of the data, all fields must be completed. The form must be emailed or faxed to the NSW Ministry of Health at MOH-TOPfirstname.lastname@example.org. Any enquiries can also be directed to this address.
What is the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019?
In New South Wales, the law on abortion is governed by the Abortion Law Reform Act 2019, which amended the Crimes Act 1900 to repeal the provisions of that Act relating to termination of pregnancy (abortion) and to abolish the common law offences relating to abortion.
The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 ensures abortion is treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. The Act:
- establishes a health centered approach for abortion
- supports a woman's right to health, including reproductive health and autonomy
- provides clarity and safety for health practitioners providing abortions.
What do the changes mean for health practitioners in NSW?
The Abortion Law Reform Act 2019 allows a medical practitioner to undertake a termination on a woman who is not more than 22 weeks pregnant.
A termination of pregnancy on a person who is more than 22 weeks pregnant may be performed by a specialist medical practitioner provided that the medical practitioner:
- considers that there are sufficient grounds for the termination to be performed, and
- has consulted with another specialist medical practitioner who also considers that there are sufficient grounds for the termination to be performed.
The specialist medical practitioner may consult with a multidisciplinary advisory group or hospital advisory committee, where they identify a need.
A termination of pregnancy on a person who is more than 22 weeks pregnant must, except in an emergency, be performed in certain public hospitals or approved facilities.
The Act also recognises that registered health practitioners such as a medical practitioner, nurse, midwife, pharmacist or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, or another registered health practitioner prescribed by the regulations, may assist in the performance of a termination of pregnancy by a medical practitioner. This means that a pharmacist can assist a termination by dispensing medication prescribed by a medical practitioner.
Before performing a termination of pregnancy, it may be disclosed to the medical practitioner that the reason for the request is for the sole purpose of sex selection. If this is the reason for the request, the practitioner
must not perform the termination, unless not performing the termination will cause significant risk to the woman’s health or safety.
These will often be complex clinical and/or ethical scenarios. In all cases, the woman’s physical and psychological wellbeing must be the medical practitioner’s priority.
Practitioners must comply with any guidelines issued by the Health Secretary.
What happens if a health practitioner has a conscientious objection to abortion?
When asked to advise about, perform or assist in an abortion, any health practitioner who has a conscientious objection must inform the person who made the request in a timely fashion.
The practitioner must also:
- give information to the woman on how to locate or contact a medical practitioner whom they believe does not have a conscientious objection or
- transfer the woman’s care to another registered health practitioner, or health service provider, who can provide the requested service.
The requirement to provide information may be met by directing a woman to the Pregnancy Choices Helpline on 1800 008 463 or the
Pregnancy Choices website, which provides information on abortion providers, as well as general information and support services for reproductive and sexual health.
Do women have to attend counselling before having an abortion?
Under the Act, women seeking an abortion prior to 22 weeks gestation are not required to attend counselling but may wish to do so. Medical practitioners are required to assess whether counselling would be beneficial. Most providers will offer counselling services that women can use before and after the procedure.
GPs can refer women to health practitioners who offer non-directive pregnancy counselling, with a signed and dated letter. Medicare rebates are available for up to three sessions of counselling per patient, per pregnancy. This service is only available to women who are pregnant or have been pregnant in the last 12 months.
For terminations of pregnancy after 22 weeks, the specialist medical practitioner must provide information to the woman about access to counselling, including publicly funded counselling. This requirement does not apply in an emergency.
What information is available to women who are considering an abortion?
For more information, women can: