Selective reduction of fetuses in multiple pregnancies and the law in Australia
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This article considers whether it is lawful in Australia to terminate one or more fetuses in a multiple pregnancy selectively and, if so, under what circumstances. It begins by addressing the preliminary question whether selective reduction is covered by laws relating to abortion and provides a brief outline of the law of abortion in Australian jurisdictions. The article then considers selective reduction of high-order multiple pregnancies, before turning to selective reduction of twin pregnancies in a range of circumstances. The article demonstrates that the law of abortion, as applied to selective reduction of multiple pregnancies, is uncertain and that there are considerable variations from one State to another. It concludes that the law in this area is in need of reform to recognise that some reductions are not performed prima facie to prevent danger to the mother's health and to remove the need for doctors to assert symptomatology of mental illness in order to guard against criminal law consequences. Further, there is a need to clarify whether selective reduction/termination is abortion for the purposes of the law, and to achieve greater consistency across jurisdictions.
Journal of Law and Medicine
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Law and Society