Termination of pregnancy (abortion) in Queensland – everything you need to know
Wednesday 5 December 2018
After legislation changes came into effect on 3 December 2018, women in Queensland can now legally access termination of pregnancy services.
The Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018 ensures termination of pregnancy is treated as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. The Act:
- supports a woman's right to health, including reproductive health and autonomy
- provides clarity and safety for health practitioners providing terminations of pregnancy
- brings Queensland legislation in line with other Australian jurisdictions.
Termination of pregnancy in Australia is very common. Up to one in three Australian women will choose to have a termination in their lifetime. It is important that Queensland women have access to information on how to safely access termination of pregnancy services. Below, we’ve answered common questions about termination of pregnancy in Queensland.
What is termination of pregnancy?
Termination of pregnancy – you might also know it as abortion – is a procedure that ends a pregnancy.
In Queensland, women who are up to 22 weeks pregnant may request a termination, for any reason, without disclosing the reason to the doctor. A termination may be performed after 22 weeks if two medical practitioners agree that, in all circumstances, the termination should be performed.
There are two different methods of termination performed in Queensland, known as medical termination and surgical termination.
I’m pregnant – what now?
Half of Australian women experience an unplanned pregnancy in their lifetime. If you are pregnant and are not sure that you want to continue with the pregnancy, know that this is something many women go through and there is support available for you.
If you are pregnant, there are three different options available to you: termination, parenting and adoption. You might already know which option you would like to choose, or you might find this decision more difficult or complex. There’s no one right way to feel about making the decision.
Children by Choice have resources to help you fully understand each of your options and a ‘Decision Making’ worksheet that can be viewed online or downloaded as PDF to help you clarify your thoughts around your decision. You can also call 13 HEALTH (12 43 25 84).
I want to have a termination – where do I start and who do I speak to?
To access a termination in Queensland you can either contact a termination provider (clinic) to book an appointment or visit your GP for referral to an appropriate clinic. You can find a list of termination providers in Queensland here.
You do not have to attend counselling before having a termination in Queensland. However, you may wish to do so. Most providers will offer counselling services that you can use before or after the procedure, if you would like to speak with someone about how you’re feeling about your decision or the procedure.
It is completely up to you whether you tell other people about your decision to terminate a pregnancy. This includes your partner or the man involved in the pregnancy, your family or your workplace. It can help to talk to someone you trust while you are making your decision and, if you have a termination, throughout that process. Children by Choice have tips about how to have this conversation if you choose to tell someone.
How much will a termination cost?
The cost of a termination depends on how many weeks pregnant you are, whether you have a medical or a surgical termination of pregnancy, your location, and the service provider.
If you are unable to afford termination services, Children by Choice has a financial assistance program for disadvantaged women seeking a termination, which can include women on low incomes, without access to financial resources or those living in regional and remote areas.
If you are living in regional or remote Queensland and will need to travel to access termination services, you may be eligible to access Queensland Health’s Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme. Talk to your GP or local hospital about your eligibility and to get a referral.
What are the risks of termination?
As with all medical procedures, there are some minimal risks involved in termination of pregnancy, however pregnancy terminations are one of the safest and most common medical procedures performed in Australia.
There are no links to infertility, breast cancer or long-term health problems in women after having a termination.
What if I am under 18?
If you are under 18 and you are pregnant, you are legally allowed to have a termination with or without your parents’ or guardians’ consent. In Queensland, women under 18 can legally have a termination if they are able to show maturity and understanding about the procedure and their decision.
A doctor may encourage you to involve you parents or guardians in consultation or treatment, if the doctor believes it is in your best interests. However, the decision is ultimately up to you.
If a woman under 18 is not able to show they have the maturity to consent to treatment, the Supreme Court of Queensland may authorise a termination, if it is in their best interests. A parent or guardian cannot give consent in these circumstances.
If you are a young woman and think or know you might be pregnant, you can visit Know 4 Sure, a website just for young people with information about pregnancy and the different options.
What about adults with impaired capacity?
Termination is considered a special health care matter under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000. This means that a substitute decision-maker for a pregnant woman with impaired capacity cannot give consent for a termination.
The Guardianship and Administration Act provides that the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) may consent to the termination only if satisfied a medical practitioner may perform the termination under Termination of Pregnancy Act. The Supreme Court of Queensland may also authorise a termination in these circumstances.
What is conscientious objection?
The new legislation sets out the steps a registered health practitioner must take if they ‘conscientiously object’ to performing or assisting in the performance of a termination, making a decision about whether a termination should be performed, or advising about the performance of a termination, because it conflicts with their own personal beliefs, values or moral concerns. If your health practitioner is a conscientious objector, they must tell you and refer you to a practitioner or service who can help you.
You can find more information about termination of pregnancy and where you can get support if you are considering a termination by visiting you GP or local health service or at the links below.
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