Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019

02 August 2019

Late terminations after 22 weeks

RANZCOG recognises the complexities associated with late term abortions, and supports a process by which late term abortions can be lawfully performed where appropriate. In the case of abortion after 22 weeks gestation, the College agrees that involvement of two doctors and a multidisciplinary team is desirable, but should not be mandatory, and should not obstruct a woman’s right to determine the course of action that she chooses to take. A multidisciplinary team may include, but not be limited to, fetomaternal medicine specialists, neonatologists, geneticists, social workers, psychiatrists or other mental health specialists.
The 22 week threshold is appropriate because many fetal abnormalities may not be identifiable until the 18-20 week anatomical ultrasound is performed. If an anomaly is discovered, it is crucial that the woman is allowed sufficient time to be adequately informed prior to a decision regarding abortion. This may take some days.
A late abortion is only ever performed when there is a compelling clinical need and should follow extensive consultation with the woman and her treating health practitioners. The incidence of late termination is low and there is no evidence, and no reason to believe, that removing abortion from the Criminal Code will change current clinical practice, nor the number of abortions that will be performed. Late terminations in NSW are currently performed in accordance with clear professional and ethical standards, with reference to the NSW Health framework ( and RANZCOG Statement C-Gyn 17 (

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