skip to content
Law Handbook banner image

Contraception and abortion

Advice on contraception, pregnancy and abortion is readily obtainable from medical practitioners or other health services.

A person seeking advice or receiving contraceptive or pregnancy-related treatment does not need their partner or spouse's consent. Neither does a child or young person need the consent of their parent or guardian. However, in the case of a child under 16 years, a second medical opinion may be necessary for treatment. Please see the chapter, Medical Treatment and Related Issues, Children under 16 years, for more information.

Where a child or any person is unable to give consent to an abortion or sterilisation (for example, due to an intellectual disability) only the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) can give consent, not the person's parents, but they are given an opportunity to make submissions to the Tribunal [Guardianship and Administration Act 1993 (SA) s 61]. However, in the case of P. v P. (1994) 181 CLR 583; [1994] HCA 20, the High Court held that where a child's parents have been married, the Family Court has the power to make an order approving sterilisation, notwithstanding a decision contrary by the Tribunal.

In South Australia the law on abortion is covered by the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935 (SA) s 82A(1). To perform an illegal abortion on oneself or someone else is an offence with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

A woman (of any age) who has resided in South Australia for at least two months may have an abortion, at certain hospitals, by a medical practitioner who agrees with another medical practitioner with one of the following assessments:

  • the pregnancy continuing involves greater risk to the pregnant woman's life, or greater risk of injury to her physical or mental health, than terminating the pregnancy, or
  • there is a substantial risk if the pregnancy is not terminated that the child will be seriously handicapped from physical or mental abnormalities.
Contraception and abortion  :  Last Revised: Thu Dec 6th 2018
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.