Abortion FAQ Australia

Answering your questions

Pregnancy Termination Facts

ABORTION or TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY FACTS

Overview

At a medical consultation, your doctor will conduct a clinical assessment that takes account of your medical history and other relevant factors and also discuss with you the most appropriate method of abortion.

Abortion is the end (termination) of a pregnancy. A low-risk surgical procedure called suction aspiration or suction curette is generally used for first trimester abortions. Medical (non-surgical) abortions using medications such as mifepristone (RU486) are available in some clinics. Studies show most Australians support the idea of safe and legal abortion.

Discussion

Abortion is the end (termination) of a pregnancy. Most abortions are performed during the first trimester of pregnancy (up to 12 weeks). A number of studies show most Australians support the idea of safe and legal abortion. It’s important that all women have access to accurate information about abortion so they can make their own informed decision.

Most women experience unplanned pregnancy as a difficult health issue, but the evidence shows that there are rarely lasting negative consequences for women who choose to have an abortion. Many women find that when they have made a considered and informed decision, and have been supported in their decision by their partner, family and/or health professional, then the outcome is positive. Some women report feeling mixed emotions, such as relief as well as a sense of sadness and loss after the procedure, which diminish over time.

It is very important to talk about your feelings with a supportive friend/partner or Counsellor/Health Professional.

Abortion types

Two types of abortion are currently available:

Surgical abortion:

- a low-risk procedure most commonly used for first trimester (7–12 weeks) abortion in Australia. Known as suction aspiration or suction curette, it involves removing the lining and contents of the uterus (womb) through a dilated Cervix. A range of other surgical techniques are used for abortion later in pregnancy.

- a Surgical abortion usually requires you to fast before the procedure and you will not be able to drive yourself home.

- See Surgical FAQ on a separate page.

Medical abortion:

An alternative to surgery used for terminating pregnancies earlier than 7–9 weeks (depending on the clinic). RU486 (mifepristone), also known as ‘the abortion pill’, is the most widely known medication used for this procedure. It’s available in some clinics in Australia and is up to 98 per cent effective when used in the first nine weeks of pregnancy. However, this procedure requires a minimum of two visits to the Clinic and, if unsuccessful, will require a Surgical procedure.

Currently, GSDS does NOT provide this service, but provides the following general information for your consideration in deciding which method you may prefer.

-See Medical FAQ on a separate page.

Some Abortion facts:

There are any number of myths and misconceptions about the procedure known as abortion or termination of pregnancy (TOP). Some are based on beliefs from the past when abortion was considered or deemed illegal and ‘backyard’ procedures carried considerable risks, including  infection, physical injury and or death.

Some facts about abortion include the following:

Abortion is one of the most commonly performed and safest surgical procedures in Australia.

Australia’s abortion rate by international standards, is reasonably low.

International research shows women will still seek abortion, even if illegal.

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that if all couples used effective contraception 100 per cent of the time, there would still be six million unplanned pregnancies every year. Over half of all women who have had an abortion were using contraception at the time they became pregnant.

Women don’t always choose to have unprotected sex. Coercion, manipulation, rape and the abuse of alcohol and other drugs can deny a woman her right to act freely or use contraception.

An abortion performed safely with no complications won’t reduce or impact on a woman’s fertility in the future.

According to experts, Abortion does not cause any ongoing emotional distress for most women.

There is no evidence that abortion causes breast cancer.

The Medical Abortion drug, RU486 is registered for use in over 33 countries worldwide. Nearly two million women in Europe and North America have been prescribed the drug since it was first used in 1988.

Demographic profile of Women seeking an Abortion:

Unplanned pregnancy can affect any woman of childbearing age, but studies show some women are more likely to have an abortion than others.

The typical woman seeking abortion is:

1.     Aged in her 20s

2.     Single

3.     Childless

4.     Well educated

5.     Employed.

Research shows that at the time of an unplanned pregnancy:

Up to 60 per cent of women were using at least one form of contraception and one in five of those were using more than one method.

Up to 43 per cent of women who were using contraception were on the pill and 22 per cent were using condoms.

Differing laws in Australia causes confusion:

Studies have shown that most Australians (male and female) support the conduct of safe, compliant and legal abortion. However, abortion laws in Australian states and territories vary in both interpretation and application, which can be confusing. The key areas of variation surround the reason for abortion and the stage of pregnancy. Early abortion (up to 14 weeks) is available Australia wide and abortion in later stages of gestation is available in most states and territories.

This confusion surrounding the law, and the limited nature of the services available in certain areas, may prevent and or, discourage women from accessing abortion in a timely manner, especially in rural or remote areas.

To illustrate the above, the following is an extract from the Royal Women’s Hospital Victoria website:

Abortion is a health issue

In 2008 the Victorian Parliament passed the Abortion Law Reform Act, which aligns the law with clinical practice and community support for health professionals to offer abortion as part of comprehensive, high quality women’s health care.

This law reform has decriminalised abortion when it is performed by a medical practitioner with a woman’s consent. Terminating a pregnancy that has passed 24 weeks gestation is lawful when two doctors have considered all the circumstances and determined that an abortion is appropriate.

Australian and International Abortion rates:

The precise number of abortions performed in Australia each year is difficult to quantify, but a 2005 estimate put the figure to be approximately 70,000 to 80,000. This is because only South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory collect abortion statistics, and only South Australia actually publishes this data.

However, Medicare data gives some indication of the numbers, but does not distinguish between abortions and other similar or related medical procedures, such as still births and the removal of a fetus that has already died. The estimated rate for Australia in 2003 was around 19.7 abortions per 1,000 women aged between 15 and 44 years.

International rates range from 7.7 in Germany to 90 in Eastern Europe, with a world average of 33–37 abortions per 1,000 women. These rates tend to reflect the attitude of each country to comprehensive sexuality education and effective contraception rather than the sexual behaviour of the people who live there.

Where you can get help:

If you are pregnant and not sure what to do, we encourage you to talk to a health professional, such as a GP or women’s health specialist, as soon as possible about your options and the services available to you.

GSDS recommends that you seek help from any of the following sources:

1.     Your doctor.

2.      Children By Choice (CBC): 237 Lutwyche Road, Windsor QLD 4030 Phone: 07 3357 5377 (Brisbane) or freecall 1800 177 725 state-wide. Or visit http://www.childrenbychoice.org.au

3.     Family Planning Queensland (FPQ) Clinic: 106 Alfred Street Fortitude Valley QLD 4006 Phone:  (07) 3250 0200: Or visit http://www.fpq.com.au/. No appointments by email.

4.     FPQ Education and Administration: 100 Alfred Street Fortitude Valley QLD 4006 (P.O. Box 215, Fortitude Valley QLD 4006) Phone: (07) 3250 0240  Email: info@fpq.com.au

5.     Queensland Health 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or http://www.health.qld.gov.au/

6.     Womens Health Qld; 165 Gregory Terrace  Spring Hill QLD 4000 (07) 3839 9962


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