The legal and non-legal barriers to abortion access in Australia: a review of the evidence Academic Article uri icon


  • In Australia, about one in four pregnancies results in an induced abortion. The termination of a pregnancy is still, however, a criminal act in most jurisdictions, and access to abortion is not without barriers. This paper analyses existing access barriers and their implications.Databases and the grey literature were searched for publications that examined any legal and/or non-legal abortion access barrier applicable to Australia (2000-2016). Only those barriers that had been demonstrated to be the most restrictive were included and categorised.From the initial 410 studies, only 20 publications were identified that matched the inclusion criteria. They indicated that access barriers do indeed exist in Australia. In many parts of Australia, abortion is only legal under strict conditions. Relatively strong evidence was found on the limited abortion access of rural women and of an imminent shortage in the provision of late abortions. For other barriers only limited research evidence existed, or merely opinions were expressed. Very few studies were undertaken to link barriers to outcomes.Although this review can form a base for the national improvement of abortion access, the gap found in Australian research demonstrates a need for additional studies.

publication date

  • 2017