R v Wald | 28 October 1971

ON 28 OCTOBER 1971, Judge Levine of the NSW District Court delivered R v Wald.

It was ruled that an abortion performed by a medical practitioner is lawful in New South Wales if there is “any economic, social or medical ground or reason” for the practitioner to hold an honest and reasonable belief that a termination at any stage of the pregnancy was required to avoid “serious danger to the pregnant woman’s life or to her physical or mental health”.

Per Levine DCJ at 29:

“In my view it would be for the jury to decide whether there existed in the case of each woman any economic, social or medical ground or reason which in their view could constitute reasonable grounds upon which an accused could honestly and reasonably believe there would result a serious danger to her physical or mental health. It may be that an honest belief be held that the woman’s mental health was in serious danger at the very time she was interviewed by a doctor, or that her mental health, although not then in serious danger, could reasonably be expected to be seriously endangered at some time during the currency of pregnancy, if uninterrupted. In either case such a conscientious belief on reasonable grounds would have to be negatived before an offence under s 83 of the Act could be proved.”

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