Women's Health and Equality Queensland


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Violence Against Women




When faced with an unplanned pregnancy, it can be extremely difficult for some women to decide what is best. If you are thinking about abortion, you are not alone. Abortion is a safe and common medical procedure that 1 in 4 Australian women of reproductive age report having had in their lifetime. There are two types of abortion: surgical and medication.

Abortion is a personal choice and it can be a hard decision to make. There are many reasons why you might choose to have an abortion. For example, if you:

  • don’t feel ready or don’t want to have children,
  • don’t have enough money,
  • have physical or mental health conditions,
  • didn’t plan your pregnancy,
  • aren’t in a stable relationship,
  • are pregnant because of a sexual assault,
  • or find out your baby is not developing as expected.

Regardless of the reason, it’s your choice to end your pregnancy.

Medication Abortion

Medication abortion, sometimes also called medical abortion, is the use of drugs to end an early pregnancy. Medication abortion is generally available in Australia for terminations of pregnancies less than nine weeks gestation. The first step of medication abortion involves a tablet that blocks the hormones needed for your pregnancy to continue. 24-48 hours later, you take a second medication which causes your uterus to contract and miscarry your pregnancy (this usually begins 4-6 hours later). You will have several hours of intense cramping, but the pain should ease once you have had the miscarriage. Your doctor can prescribe stronger pain medication to help, and you should be able to manage at home. A follow up will take place between 11 days to 3 weeks after the first medication has been taken. The doctor evaluates you to confirm that all the pregnancy tissue has been expelled and you are no longer pregnant. This step is essential. Even if there has been significant pain, loss of blood and passing of clots this is not enough to confirm that the pregnancy has successfully ended. You must return to the clinic or GP to confirm that the abortion is complete. For women and pregnant people having to travel some distance to access a clinic or prescribing doctor, arrangements may be made for the follow up to be done by their local GP. The cost of a medication abortion can be between $100 to $500 in Australia.

Surgical Abortion

Surgical abortion can be performed if you are more than nine weeks pregnant or don’t want to have a medication abortion. The abortion is usually done as a day procedure. For early pregnancies, the doctor inserts a small tube into your uterus via your vagina. A gentle suction action removes the lining and contents of your uterus. In some cases, a more involved procedure may be required. If you have a surgical abortion under general anaesthetic (while you are asleep), you will not experience any pain during the abortion, but you may have cramping for a few days afterwards. If you have a surgical abortion under local anaesthetic, you are likely to feel mild to strong cramps during the abortion. It’s also normal to have cramping and pain similar to a period for the few days following. Surgical abortions may cost between $400 – $700 in Australia.

Looking after your mental health when considering or getting an abortion

Making the decision to terminate your pregnancy is not easy. It is important to look after your mental health, particularly if you find yourself navigating and managing the stigma of abortions. Children by Choice is a Brisbane-based organisation that offers Queensland-wide information and support for all pregnancy options that is confidential and non-judgemental. Their counselling team offers decision making counselling, evidence-based information on pregnancy options, referrals to health and support services, and post-abortion counselling and support. Other options for counselling include Marie Stopes Institute Australia, or a post-abortion follow-up appointment with a health professional or counsellor.

Some organisations that claim to offer pregnancy counselling or family planning services do not consider all options in a non-biased, non-directive way. It may be helpful to ask the organisation you are contacting what their position is regarding abortion before making an appointment.

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