Early medical abortion: legal and medical developments in Australia

Med J Aust. 2010 Jul 5;193(1):26-9. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03736.x.


Mifepristone is a safe, effective and relatively cheap drug that plays an important role in women's health care and is widely used for early medical abortion in many countries. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) can authorise mifepristone to be imported into and marketed in Australia. To date, no pharmaceutical company has applied to register mifepristone in Australia. The TGA can also permit medical practitioners to prescribe medicine that is not approved for marketing in Australia under the Authorised Prescribers scheme. The number of approvals for mifepristone has gradually increased, in spite of a complicated and protracted application process. Approval under the Authorised Prescribers scheme requires medical practitioners to comply with state or territory legislation. Abortion laws in Australia vary between jurisdictions, and in some states the law is unclear and confusing. The decriminalisation of abortion in all Australian jurisdictions would protect medical practitioners from criminal liability, promote the health interests of Australian women, and discourage the illegal importation of abortifacients that are being used without quality controls or medical supervision. The Victorian Abortion Law Reform Act 2008 is one legislative model for this.

MeSH terms

  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal*
  • Abortion, Induced / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Australia
  • Drug Approval
  • Humans
  • Liability, Legal
  • Mifepristone*
  • Physicians / legislation & jurisprudence


  • Abortifacient Agents, Steroidal
  • Mifepristone