Fact sheet

Fact Check: Have abortions after 20 weeks increased 39 per cent in Victoria post-decriminalisation?

Abortion Victoria
Opposing a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW, legal academics from the University of Adelaide wrote an op-ed claiming that Victoria saw a substantial rise in post 20 week abortions after it passed similar legislation. Associate Professor Joanna Howe and Professor Suzanne Le Mire claimed that since abortion was decriminalised in Victoria in 2008, such abortions had increased by 39 per cent. But both academics are wrong. On the raw numbers, there were 328 post 20 week abortions in Victoria in 2008 ' decriminalisation came into effect in October that year. Those numbers rose sharply immediately after the law change in 2009, and stayed above 2008 levels for five years. Since 2014 however, the number of post 20 week abortions has remained below pre-decriminalisation levels. In 2017, the latest data available, there were 324, which when compared to 2008 represents a 1 per cent decrease. And looking at the rate of post 20 week abortions as a proportion of all births ' which better takes into account population growth ' also showed a decrease in post 20 week abortions since decriminalisation. Dr Howe and Professor Le Mire told RMIT ABC Fact Check they calculated the 39 per cent increase by comparing the average number of post 20 week abortions from 2000 to 2008, to the average number from 2009 to 2016. This represented a "crude approach" to calculating the change in the number of abortions over time, according to one expert.
Verdict: Wrong
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