In Victoria, Australia, abortion was decriminalized in October 2008, bringing the law in line with clinical practice and community attitudes. We describe how experts in abortion service provision perceived the 2008 Victorian abortion law reform’s intent and subsequent impact.
Researchers recruited experts in abortion provision for a qualitative semi-structured interview about the law reform and its perceived impact until the point of saturation. Researchers interviewed nineteen experts from various healthcare settings and geographic locations. Then they conducted the thematic analysis to summarise participants’ views.
The analysis categorized participants’ views into goals that the government intended law reform to address and that have been achieved; intent or hopes of law reform that have not been observed; unintended consequences; coincidences; and unfinished business. All agreed that law reform had repositioned abortion as a health rather than a legal issue, had shifted the power in decision making from doctors to women, and had increased clarity and safety for doctors.
While positive, the study concluded that law reform has failed to address several significant issues in abortion service provision and may have even resulted in a ‘lull’ in action.