Consultation confirms community support for abortion reform

  • ​Public consultation report on significant abortion reform released
  • More than 17,500 people have their say on reform
  • Overwhelming public and health professional support for change
  • Cook Government to modernise critical component of women’s healthcare

The Cook Government has released the findings of consultation into the modernisation of Western Australia’s abortion laws which found overwhelming community and medical practitioner support for change.

A four-week consultation period to provide input into key issues regarding access to abortion care was opened on Sunday, 20 November 2022 in preparation for the introduction of legislative amendments to contemporise the provision of abortion in WA.

More than 17,500 survey responses were received during the consultation period, 91 per cent of whom were WA residents. Over 81 per cent of respondents were women.

The consultation identified overwhelming support for:

  • reducing the number of health practitioners required to be involved in care from two to one (69 per cent in favour);
  • abolishing the Ministerial Panel requirement for later term abortions (67 per cent in favour);
  • allowing health practitioners to conscientiously object but be required to refer patients to a clinician willing and able to provide care (72 per cent in favour);
  • removing mandatory counselling provisions (63 per cent in favour);
  • removing the requirement for Ministerial approval for a health service to perform late abortions (65 per cent in favour); and
  • feedback also supported the proposal to increase the gestational age at which additional requirements apply to better align with other jurisdictions, with 60 per cent of people of reproductive age in favour.

The public feedback is being considered by Government ahead of introducing legislation to address inequity of access in line with other Australian jurisdictions and remove clinically unnecessary and antiquated barriers for women accessing an abortion.

The report into the online consultation is available here:

As stated by Health; Mental Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:

“Abortion is a critical component of women’s healthcare, and the Cook Government is working to remove unnecessary restrictions on accessing care in WA.

“I’d like to thank the many thousands of Western Australians who took part in the consultation to share their views on the key issues ahead of the drafting of this significant reform.

“It is clear that just like the Government, the public and medical practitioners recognise that the time has come for change, and we look forward to delivering this for Western Australian women.”

As stated by Women’s Interests Minister Sue Ellery:

“More than 81 per cent of people who took part in the consultation were women and I thank them and all respondents for their valuable contributions.

“Western Australian women should not face barriers to access safe, private and dignified abortion.

“We are committed to removing the outdated barriers faced by those accessing abortion in our State and this consultation is an important step towards modernising WA’s laws.”

As stated by Attorney General John Quigley:

“This important public feedback is now being considered by the Cook Government and we expect to introduce a bill to Parliament later this month to fully decriminalise the provision of abortion in WA.

“The Criminal Code has no role to play in regulating access to legitimate abortion services and importantly this offence will be repealed.”

/Public Release. View in full here.