Abortion Law in Australia: Conscientious Objection and Implications for Access
As of 2021, abortion has been decriminalised, at least partially, in every Australian jurisdiction; however, barriers to accessing a lawful abortion remain. This article focuses on one of those barriers, namely conscientious objection to the provision of abortion services. It provides an in-depth legal analysis of the nature and scope of the obligations imposed by each Australian jurisdiction’s conscientious objection provision and considers how the framing of these provisions facilitate (such as through referral requirements), and in some cases compromise, access. It is argued that there is a case for law reform to address some of the inconsistency, legal gaps and uncertainty identified and that other regulatory strategies and tools can supplement the law to ensure compliance with legal obligations and minimise access issues.