Abortion

This is a pro-choice space where you'll find all the information you need if you find yourself needing to proceed with terminating a pregnancy.

Content warning: This page discusses abortion. If this is a topic that is troublesome for you, click away now, or contact one of the resources under the support header below.

Support

I wanted to start this section by referring you to some support resources that will help if you're feeling as through it's all a bit much - the whole process can be really stressful, and it's okay to not be okay with it all.

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Pregnancy Counselling Australia: 1300 737 732

Abortion Grief Australia: 1300 363 550

Marie Stopes Australia:  1300 866 130

1800 My Options: (Victoria Specific) 1800 696 784

What is termination and what does it involve?

Abortion is the intended termination of pregnancy.

Medical termination: Medical termination is a safe method of termination that involves no surgical intervention. As an option, it can be utilized up until 9 weeks gestation, and can be done in the comfort of your own home. It includes a combination of medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, which work together to physiologically terminate and expel the pregnancy.  In the early stages of pregnancy, this is a commonly preferred option as it is non-invasive and 99% effective (Australian Government Department of Health, 2018). 

 

Surgical termination: Surgical termination, as the name states, is the termination of pregnancy through 'suction aspiration', whereby the pregnancy is removed from the uterus through a gentle suction apparatus. The procedure requires an anaesthetic, and is necessary for pregnancies at over 9 weeks gestation. The procedure is routine, and safe, and takes less than 15 minutes (Australian Government Department of Health, 2018).  

Are there any regulations surrounding termination in Australia?

The laws for abortion differ between each Australian state and aren't nationally streamlined - We'll start firstly by going through the legality of things for each state:

Victoria: Abortion is legal - until 24 weeks gestation termination is accessible to all through a registered practitioner, and after this time with the approval of two relevant medical practitioners. . 

New South Wales: Abortion is illegal, however if a risk to the woman's physical or mental health is acknowledged by medical practitioners it can be accessed. Social and economic factors must be legally considered when assessing necessity for termination. Unfortunately, a bill put forward by the Greens in 2017 to legalise abortion in NSW was voted down in parliament, however on 1st August 2019 the Reproductive Health Care Reform was introduced. See my new video for updates!

Queensland: As of December 3rd 2018 abortion is legal up until 22 weeks gestation after previously being restricted by similar legalities to NSW (Brilliant news!!). Following 22 weeks, consultation with two approving medical practitioners is required. 

South Australia: Abortion is legal if performed in a hospital or registered clinic up until 28 weeks gestation if two doctors agree that continuing with the pregnancy would be detrimental to the woman's mental or physical health, or if foetal abnormalities are present. The patient must be a South Australian resident, unless the case is an emergency.  

Western Australia: Abortion is legal up to 20 weeks under the condition that the woman is offered counselling services, and if under the age of 16 years, a parent/guardian has been advised. After 20 weeks, termination is not illegal, but is very restricted, whereby two doctors from a statutory panel must agree that either the woman or the foetus has a severe medical condition that justifies termination of the pregnancy. 

Northern Territory: Abortion is legal up to 23 weeks, whereby approval from one medical practitioner is required until 14 weeks, and two medical practitioners thereafter. Following 23 weeks, a woman's life must be endangered by continuing with the pregnancy for termination to be considered lawful. 

ACT: Abortion is legal however needs to be performed within a ministerial approved medical facility by an approved medical practitioner. 

Tasmania: Abortion is legal up until 16 weeks gestation - after this it is still legal with the approval of two medical practitioners. Tasmania's only surgical abortion practice was closed in early 2018 and pressure has been mounted onto the state government to assist in the provision of local surgical termination services. In addition to this there are very few registered medical practitioners providing abortion services. In response there is a travel assistance scheme to assist women to travel to Victoria to receive care.  

(Children by Choice, 2018; Willis, 2018). 

What to do, where to go, who to call?

There's a few options here, and they're not necessarily restricted by the laws within your home state as outlined above.

One option is to speak to your GP - you may have already spoken with them to confirm the pregnancy - and have them refer you off to a facility that will be able to assist you. If you hold a pension or healthcare card and live in a state where abortion is legal, you can be referred as a priority patient into the public system who will arrange an appointment for you that will be covered by Medicare. If you don't hold either of these cards, but have Medicare, you can be referred to the public system, but they may advise you to go elsewhere if they don't have the capacity to treat you. If you can't go through the public system for whatever reason, you can be referred to a local private clinic. You will receive a Medicare rebate for services provided by these clinics, but there may be out of pocket fees associated.

 

Another option is the The Tabbot Foundation, who will provide you with medical termination medication over the phone if this is deemed an appropriate option for you, in all states except South Australia. Start by getting in touch with them - they'll assist you in organising an ultrasound and blood test as soon as possible. Following this, you'll speak with a doctor over the phone who will talk you through the medical abortion process, and the risks associated. If everything is in order, you'll receive your medication in the mail. If you live in a major city, you'll likely receive your parcel the following day. If you live rurally, you can have the discrete parcel sent to a local post-office for collection within 48 hours if at home delivery is not an option. You'll get 24 hour p/day over the phone care if you need it, and plenty of support and follow up. The organisation pride themselves on being a safe, reputable medical provider, free from the judgement and poor experiences women can sometimes have when going ahead with abortion. The service costs $250, plus $75 for the medication. If you're eligible with Medicare all scans and tests will be covered with no out of pockets fees. 

In addition, the Marie Stopes Foundation are active providers of contraception and abortion services world wide. Like the Tabbot Foundation, Marie Stopes can provide medical abortion services via phone consultation, but they also offer in clinic services as well, including surgical and late stage termination, and have a fantastic financial hardship support program. You can find a clinic close to you by clicking here

Page References

Australian Government Department of Health. (2018). Abortion - Health Direct. Retrieved December 2018, from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/abortion

Children by Choice. (2018). Australian Abortion Laws. Retrieved December 2018, from: https://www.childrenbychoice.org.au/factsandfigures/australianabortionlawandpractice 

Willis, O. (2018). Is Abortion Legal in Australia? It's Complicated. Retrieved December 2018, from:https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2018-05-26/is-abortion-legal-in-australia/9795188

Stephanie Says acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we live - the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. We acknowledge their Elders past, present and emerging. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land. 

Note: Stephanie Sayss is not run by medical professionals. This platform is an educational tool only, and not intended to be used for medical advice. Always seek the assistance of a doctor - this platform is intended to be used a tool to assist you in doing so.

All references are cited on the page they are relevant to. 

©2019 by Stephanie Sayss.