Will decriminalisation result in an increase in the number of abortions?

A:

There was no spike in either medical or surgical abortions in Victoria after decriminalisation occurred in 2008[1] and we do not anticipate decriminalisation would result in an increase in the number of abortions sought by NSW women. International evidence supports this view, indicating that legality does not significantly impact abortion rates[2].

[1] Family Planning NSW analysis of publicly available Medicare Benefits Schedule, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Therapeutic Goods Administration data from 2006-2018. Note there are some challenges with this data eg. Victorian data on medical abortion is combined with data from Tasmania. In addition, while MBS data for surgical abortion may include a small number of procedures for purposes other than termination of pregnancy, MBS and PBS both fail to capture data for those people seeking abortions who are not eligible for government rebates.

[2] Starrs A, Ezeh A, Barker G, Basu A, Bertrand J, Blum R, Coll-Seck A, Grover A, Laski L, Roa M, Sathar Z, Say L, Serour G, Singh S, Stenberg K, Temmerman M, Biddlecom A, Popinchalk A, Summers, C, Ashford L. Accelerate progress – sexual and reproductive health and rights for all: report of the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission. Lancet. 2018;391:2661. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30293-9.