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Administering Drugs etc to a Woman with Intent to Cause a Miscarriage

In NSW, it is an offence to administer drugs or use an instrument to cause a woman to have a miscarriage. The maximum penalty for this offence is ten years imprisonment.

The Offence of Administering Drugs To A Woman With Intent

The offence of administering drugs etc to a woman with intent is contained in section 83 of the Crimes Act 190 which states:


  • unlawfully administers to, or causes to be taken by, any woman, whether with child or not, any drug or noxious thing, or
  • unlawfully uses any instrument or other means,
  • with intent in any such case to procure her miscarriage,

shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.

What Actions Might Constitute Administering Drugs Etc To A Woman with Intent?

Doctors can be charged under this section if they fail to consider certain issues when determining whether it is appropriate for a woman to have an abortion.

Essentially what the legislation means is that a woman cannot choose to have an abortion any time they want for any reason – it has to be ‘lawful’.

Medical practitioners must satisfy themselves and hold an honest belief on reasonable grounds that what they did was necessary to preserve the woman involved from serious danger to their life, or physical or mental health. Commonly, these reasonable grounds have been interpreted to stem from social, economic or medical bases, and can arise either during or after the pregnancy.

If a doctor fails to turn their mind to these considerations at all, they may be guilty of this offence.

Another example would be if a man gave drugs to a woman with the intent of causing her to miscarry to avoid a pregnancy that he did not want.

What The Police Must Prove

To find a person guilty of this offence the prosecution must prove:

  • They unlawfully:
    • Administered or caused to be taken by a woman, a drug or noxious thing; or
    • Used an instrument or other means upon a woman; and
  • They intended to procure the miscarriage of that woman (whether pregnant or not).

Possible Defences For “Administering Drugs Etc To A Woman With Intent”?

Possible defences to an administering drugs etc to a woman with intent charge include but are not limited to:

  • That they were acting lawfully in either administering the drug or using the instrument;
  • That they did not intend to cause a miscarraige.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

Administering drugs etc to a woman with intent is a Table 1 offence and is to be dealt with by the Local Court, unless you or the prosecution elect for the matter to be heard in the District Court on indictment. The summary disposal of these offences in the Local Court carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

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