Abortion laws and medical developments: a medico-legal anomaly in Queensland. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • In October 2010 the District Court sitting in Cairns, Queensland, found Tegan Leach not guilty of attempting to procure her own abortion and Sergie Brennan not guilty of supplying Leach with the drugs Mifepristone and Misoprostol to procure an abortion. Brennan obtained the drugs from his sister in the Ukraine through the regular postal system. R v Brennan and Leach was the first case in Queensland's history where a woman was charged with procuring her own abortion. The drugs are accepted by the medical profession worldwide for medical abortions. A prosecution witness gave evidence that Mifepristone is not harmful or injurious to the health of a woman and it is listed as an essential medicine by the World Health Organisation and approved for use by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration. The jury found the defendants not guilty because they were not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the combination of the drugs Mifepristone and Misoprostol was a "noxious" substance under the Criminal Code (Old). This article concludes that there is no regulatory miracle which will stop the traffic of Mifepristone and Misoprostol into Australia and therefore an intelligent regulatory response is required which would make it unnecessary for women to seek Mifepristone and Misoprostol from overseas networks and the internet. Among other things, this would include the repeal of confusing, inappropriate and ineffective abortion laws.

publication date

  • March 1, 2011