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Abortion - use of defence of necessity

Abortion - use of defence of necessity

Abortion and the defence of necessity

The legislation

The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) sections 82-84 covers attempts to procure an abortion.

The defence of necessity

The following court decisions have used the defence of necessity successfully:

Background information about abortion

Recent case study

In 2010, a young Queensland couple were charged for terminating an unwanted pregnancy.  The provisions in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) sections 82-84 are similar to those of the Queensland Criminal Code.  Tegan Leach, aged 20, and her partner Sergie Brennan, aged 22, imported an abortion drug, Misoprostol, from the Ukraine and used it to terminate Leach’s eight-week pregnancy.  They faced the possibility of jail terms of seven and three years respectively.  The jury acquitted them of each charge and there were calls for the law to be changed.

The following media reports provide an overview of this particular incident:

Legal information at the Library

This guide has been developed by staff of the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC), State Library of NSW. The State Library holds an extensive collection of case law, legislation and looseleaf publications.

Key cases

Related issue

You might want to look at the related issue of the death of an unborn child


Statistics can be helpful for evaluating the effectiveness of the legal system: