IN 2015 a pregnant NSW woman and mother of five children aged four to nine bought an abortion pill from the internet.
She was 28 years old and 28 weeks old when she took the pill after weeks of urging by her boyfriend. The baby, delivered by emergency caesarean at a point where premature babies regularly survive, and go on to thrive, was stillborn.
The mother was charged and convicted of the NSW Crimes Act offence of administering a drug "with intent to procure her miscarriage". She was given a three year good behaviour bond for an offence that carries a maximum 10 year jail sentence.
Her boyfriend, who repeatedly pressured the woman over nine weeks to abort the child, was not charged. Nor was the man, Patrick, who she contacted on the internet to supply the pill.
The woman's case is one of the very few in the past two decades where people have been prosecuted in NSW for abortion offences. In 2006 a NSW doctor was given a two-year good behaviour bond after being prosecuted for the first illegal abortion in the state in 25 years.
This is despite NSW being the only state in the country where abortion is still a criminal offence, after Queensland scrapped laws from the 1800s.
There are no firm figures on abortion across the country, but Medicare Benefits Schedule item numbers most commonly used for abortions dropped from 72,967 to 47,683 between 2003 and 2016.
South Australia and Western Australia, where abortion figures are kept, have also shown a marked drop in abortions over the past 15 years. South Australian figures released in 2015 showed teenage abortion rates were the lowest they had been since 1970.
It is worth noting that public statements alleging Australia has a relatively high abortion rate of more than 80,000 per year are based on estimates in studies sponsored by companies that make long-acting contraceptives.
Two Merewether teenagers have organised a pro-choice rally at Newcastle's Civic Park on Sunday, arguing women have a right to safe, affordable abortions, free of the threat of criminal sanctions.
They have the support of Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp who said he backed a woman's right to choose.
"Abortion is not a criminal issue, it is a health issue and should be treated as such by NSW legislation," he said, after a 2017 attempt in NSW Parliament to decriminalise abortions failed.
Abortion will always be a fraught issue. Many hold strong beliefs about speaking for the unborn child. Many others - a majority if surveys are accepted - believe a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy.
But it is clear, as the Sydney woman's case shows, that the circumstances of abortion can be tragic.