South Australia decriminalised abortion more than a year ago, but nothing has changed

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While the future of abortion access in the United States makes international headlines, South Australia is behind the rest of Australia in implementing its new abortion laws.

It’s been 15 months since South Australia joined the rest of the country to pass laws to decriminalise abortion.

However, there’s still no word on when those laws will take effect, with regulations still being considered.

Flinders University associate professor and abortion advocate Catherine Kevin said the unexplained delays have caused unnecessary suffering for women.

Dr Kevin teaches and researches in the fields of Australian history and feminist history.

“We are frankly baffled by this. We don’t understand the reason for the delay,” Dr Kevin said.

Those obstacles include particular barriers for those who do not live in Adelaide.

Women must seek permission from two doctors to have an abortion and cannot yet access abortion medication via telehealth.

Once new regulations are in place, women will be able to access medication for abortions up to nine weeks remotely online and won’t need to travel.

She says it will alleviate stress for regional women once the new laws are in place.

“It will also be relevant to those suffering from COVID in the city as well,” she said.

“It impacts by increasing the time and monetary costs.”

Government reviewing regulations

Health bodies are equally confused by the delays. Obstetrician Dr Brian Peat said that the delays do not make sense. 

“It’s appalling. I’m very surprised. We don’t know what the hold-up is. I’m very privy to the hold-up,” Dr Peat said. 

“The president of the Australian Medical Association [AMA] has regular meetings with the new Minister for Health, Chris Picton.

“We have looked at the regulations, the AMA commented on them a few months ago.”

A man with light white hair wearing his green scrubs looks sternly at the camera in a park
Dr Brian Peat said he was frustrated by a lack of action from MPs on the issue of abortion.(ABC News: Ben Pettitt)

But Mr Picton did not have answers when questioned by the ABC about when these laws would take effect. 

“The previous government started various committees to look into the various regulations. That work stalled before the election,” Mr Picton said.

“Right now, we are looking at what led to those problems, what the remaining issues are.”

“It has been a very long time [since the] parliament [passed] the law.”

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