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Abortion Facts

Abortion is an irreversible decision, often made under pressure, subtle or otherwise, from others, at a time when a woman is vulnerable, and sometimes without accurate information about the process, the size and development of the baby, and the physical and emotional consequences.
Most Australians are unaware that there are 70-80,000 annual abortions, and that over 95% are performed in healthy women carrying healthy children.
In this section, we detail the facts and answer some of the most common general and specific questions women ask when choosing abortion.
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Key Facts
  • There are an estimated 70-80,000 abortions each year in Australia.1 Ninety-one per cent of abortions are performed in the first 14 weeks.2
  • The reason we use the term “estimated 80,000 children are aborted” is because no precise figures are kept on abortion in Australia. The three most populous States, NSW, Victoria and Queensland do not keep any statistics on abortion, and only one State, South Australia, publishes figures on abortion. National figures are estimated from South Australian, Western Australian and Northern Territory figures and from Medicare rebates paid to private patients.
  • About a third of all Australian women will have an abortion. This represents about one-in-four pregnancies.3
  • Various studies show about 96% of all abortions are performed for psychosocial reasons, including half of late-term abortions (after 20 weeks gestation).4
  • Less than 3% of abortions are performed because the child has a disability.
  • Less than 1% of abortions are performed on women who are the victims of rape. One extensive study of women who conceived as a result of sexual assault showed nearly all the women regretted their decision to abort. Those who continued their pregnancies were glad they did.5
  • Late-term abortions are generally available in all States and Territories.
  • 60% of women were using at least one form of contraception at the time of their pregnancy.6
  • Women of any age, including teenage girls, do not require parental permission to have an abortion.7
  • The majority of women and girls who have abortions do so because of a lack of support from partners, parents and friends. 70% of women say they felt they had no alternative to abortion.8
  • Abortion not only ends the life of a child (the foetal heartbeat is detected at 22 days from conception), but often leaves a woman and others deeply wounded, affecting existing and future relationships.9
  • One comprehensive study of 400 international studies into the psychological risks associated with abortion concluded that up to 20% of women who had an abortion suffered from serious, prolonged, negative consequences.10
  • About 60% (polls range from 60-70%) of Australians are generally in favour of abortion, however this figure decreases as reasons for abortion are qualified. Most Australians believe there are too many abortions, and that women should receive independent counselling.11
  • 35.5% of women who have abortions are married or in a de-facto relationship.12
What are the ages of women having abortions?
13 4 0.1
14 10 0.2
15 17 0.3
16 52 1.2
17 72 1.6
18 115 2.6
19 167 3.8
20 – 24 1,182 26.6
25 – 29 1,104 24.9
30 – 34 886 20.0
35 – 39 582 13.1
40 – 44 236 5.3
45+ 12 0.3

South Australian abortion figures only.12

Your Circumstances

For many women, abortion is considered for various reasons under the general category of ‘wrong timing’.
We consider the most common among these:

1. I’m a single mum and I can’t afford to give up work.

Firstly, we acknowledge that it’s tough being a single parent. But there is financial help available for you. Centrelink, for example, pays various allowances that you may be eligible for, including the Family Tax Benefit (which is income-tested), Parental Leave and the single parent allowance (or Parent Payment Single, PPS) for parents of children under eight years old. This can be as much as $750 per fortnight. Centrelink also has avenues for claiming crisis payments, and rent assistance, and community engagement officers and social workers are available to speak to if need be.

When you’re ready to return to work, you will be entitled to the Family Child Care Subsidy. You can hop online to calculate how much that will be, based on your average income, number of children in care and how much work you are doing.

The father of your child is required by law to contribute to the financial costs involved with raising your child. You can find out more about this here.

Is your head reeling at all this info? Then look up your local pregnancy support centre. These places are buzzing with people who want to help make your pregnancy journey enjoyable and stress-free. They know all about the finer points of financial support, so let them lend you a hand.

2. I can’t afford to buy baby supplies.

When you add up the cost of a cot, pram, change table, car seat, nappies, baby clothes, blankets and so on and so forth, it accumulates very quickly into an overwhelming sum of money. That’s if you insist on buying everything new. If you get savvy, you can source everything you need from markets, garage sales, op shops, eBay, Gumtree and hand-me-downs.

Don’t be shy. Ask friends and family if you can lend the items you need. Why not be super honest and put a post on that Facebook baby items page. People love providing support to expectant mothers. Many of us were in your position once, and we’d love to pass on the love that was lavished on us at the time. Let your mum or bestie throw that baby shower. Not only will you receive a heap of the things you need, but you will find yourself upheld by people who want you to do well.

Centrelink also has a Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement (the equivalent of a Baby Bonus) that you may be eligible for, if you’re not eligible for the parental leave pay. Short of that, drop in to your local pregnancy support centre. They would love to help you.

3. I have worked so hard to get where I am in my career, in terms of income and position, I don’t want to jeopardise that.

Well done! What a great achievement to have worked tirelessly to achieve that goal. We want to say that your career doesn’t have to suffer. In fact, it could even be enriched by this pregnancy.

Take some time to look into your work entitlements and any flexible return-to-work arrangements. They will be different for each workplace depending on your relevant registered agreement/contract/policy, but as a baseline, Australian employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave and they can request an additional 12 months leave after that. If your workplace gives paid leave, this doesn’t affect your eligibility for the Australian Government’s paid leave scheme. You get both! The Fair Work Ombudsman outlines pregnant employee entitlements and other useful information too.

Many women work almost to full term before breaking for a spell of maternity leave. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time, and you may choose to return to work in a full time or reduced capacity. Australian women are experiencing more and more empowerment when balancing motherhood and career. If your workplace doesn’t support this, maybe it’s your chance to agitate for change. You can always speak to the Fair Work Ombudsman too.

Many first-time mums find that motherhood gave them new skills to take back to the workplace, making them more efficient professionals. Others find that they are given a new perspective and, for a season, they are happy for home life to be a priority.

When you add up the time out of your career that a pregnancy takes, it’s relatively insignificant. All going well with pregnancy, it can be as little as a couple of months. But you may find you want more than that!

4. Our family is already complete. We can’t afford to feed, clothe and school another child.

It’s amazing how a true home works. It bends and bulges and morphs to accommodate each new need – including a newborn. Your family will do the same. Older children will find a new level of maturity – some will even relish the carer role, acting like a second mummy or daddy. Your hearts will be knitted nearer, joined in this common responsibility of raising a new family member. The food, clothes, school fees and so on will sort themselves out. There are Centrelink payments that will help, and you’ll find ways to tighten the budget (shop in bulk for your food, shop op shops for your clothes, and schools usually discount subsequent enrolments…).

Right now, you’re likely focusing on all the hard things involved with having a newborn in the house. The sleepless nights, the strain on resources, the washing, the crying, the loss of independence. They are all truths. Now think of all the wonderful things. The first moment you hold your new child, their cuddles, their laughter, watching them sleep, the way it brings your family closer, the contentedness you feel about simple things, the proud moments when you see your older children taking interest and caring for the younger ones. These are the things that matter, the moments of meaning. Can you afford not to welcome those things into your home once more?

5. I'm in an unstable/violent relationship.

We’re so sorry that you’re in this precarious situation, with a baby on the way. If your partner is abusive, you definitely need to remove yourself (and your baby) from danger. If you’re unsure if your situation constitutes ‘domestic violence’, Lifeline defines it this way:

“Domestic and family violence occurs when someone who has a close personal relationship with you makes you feel afraid, powerless or unsafe. It can be physical, but can also be emotional and psychological.”

Terminating your pregnancy won’t solve relationship issues. In fact, your unborn baby can be the catalyst for healthy change. You can begin by asking questions about what is healthy and safe for the two of you. If your partner is pressuring you to have an abortion, put some distance between the two of you so you can properly assess all of your options and make a fully informed decision.

Help is available for those experiencing domestic and family violence:

  • You can apply for a protection order (AVO) through a solicitor or the police
  • Centrelink crisis payments can help with immediate financial concerns
  • Free counselling is available through the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732
  • You may be eligible for emergency accommodation or increased security at home. Check with National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service for local referrals.
  • Free legal services are available through Community Legal Centres.
6. I'm too young/old.

Those words “too young” and “too old” are social constructs. If your body has managed to conceive a new life, then chances are it is neither too young or too old. Your body is capable.

Ask yourself, “why do I feel too old/young to have a baby?” You might answer that no one else is having babies at your age, or perhaps you have plans for the future. Before you make a decision, take some time to recognise feelings that are tied to temporary circumstances. They change so quickly and are unreliable advisors of your future happiness.

7. I won't be able to finish school or my tertiary education.

Why not? Pregnancy and motherhood is not the end of your life and dreams, much less your education. Have a chat with your teacher/s and work out a strategy for achieving your education goals. It may take you longer to graduate, and there may be a few challenges to overcome, but at the end of it all you’ll not only have completed your education, but added the title of mother to your quiver.

8. I have some physical/mental health issues and/or addictions that will prevent me from being a good mum.

Whatever you’re going through, help is available. The key is to seek it out. A great place to start is your local pregnancy support centre. They will sit down with you, talk through your concerns and put you in touch with the right people to help you through the pregnancy and beyond. Your health doesn’t preclude you from motherhood. You might just need some more people to help out. And those people, you will find, count it a privilege to journey with people just like you.

Answers To Common Questions

Abortion is often promoted as a viable choice for women with an unintended or difficult pregnancy. Below are responses to the most common arguments put forward in favour of abortion.

1. No One Knows When Life Begins

Medical textbooks and the doctors who wrote and study them agree that a unique human being is formed at the moment of conception when a sperm cell and ovum unite. Consider the following: 1

  • Dr Bradley M. Patten’s textbook, Human Embryology states: “It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.”
  • Doctors E.L Potter and J. M Craig write in Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, “Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.”
  • Dr Alfred M. Bongioanni, Professor of Pediatrics and Obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated: “I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the moment of conception … I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life.”
  • Dr Jerome LeJeunne, Professor of Genetics at the University of Descartes in Paris – who discovered the chromosome pattern of Down Syndrome – testified to a judiciary sub-committee: “After fertilization has taken place, a new human being has come into being.”
2. The unborn is an embryo or a fetus, not a baby. Abortion is terminating a pregnancy, not killing a child.

Like “toddler” and “adolescent”, the terms “embryo” and “fetus” refer to humans at particular stages of development. The word “embryo” is used of any living creature at an early stage of development. “Fetus” is a Latin word meaning “offspring”, “young one” or “little child”. The human embryo is referred to as a fetus at eight weeks.

“It is scientifically inaccurate to say an embryo or fetus is not a human being simply because he is at an earlier stage of development than a born infant. That is like saying a toddler is not a human being – or less of a human being – because he is not yet an adult. Stage of development has nothing to do with human worth. One of my daughters is two years older than the other. Does this mean she is two years better?” 2

From the moment of conception, the unborn is not simple, but very complex. A single thread of DNA from a human cell contains information equivalent to a library of one thousand volumes, or 600,000 printed pages with 500 words on a page.

The unborn child has a beating heart at 22 days after conception, before a woman is even aware she is pregnant. By 30 days, the baby has a brain, budding arms and legs and multiplied in size 10,000 times.

At three months, all the baby’s organs are formed. For the remaining six months, nothing new develops, the baby simply grows and matures.

Surgeon Robert P. N. Shearin says: “As early as eight to 10 weeks after conception, and definitely by thirteen-and-a-half weeks, the unborn experience organic pain … First, the unborn child’s mouth, at eight weeks, then her hands at 10 weeks, then her face, arms and legs at 11 weeks become sensitive to touch. By thirteen and a half weeks, she responds to pain at all levels of her nervous system in an integrated response which cannot be termed a mere reflex.” 3

3. The unborn isn’t a person with a meaningful and productive life.

Personhood is properly defined by membership in the human species, not by stages of development within that species.

“A living being designation to a species is determined by the sum total of its biological characteristics – actual and potential – which are genetically determined. If we say that (the fetus) is not human eg a member of Homo sapiens, we must say it is a member of another species, but this cannot be.” 4

The dictionary defines a “person” as a “human being”, “human individual” or “member of the human race”.

4. Life begins at birth. That’s why we celebrate birthdays, not conception days, and we don’t have funerals following miscarriages.

Our recognition of birthdays is cultural not scientific. The Chinese calculate a person’s age from the estimated time of his/her conception. Other societies celebrate birthdays to mark the day the already living child entered our world. A birthday is not the beginning of life, but the beginning of a face-to-face relationship. Some families do have funerals after a miscarriage, and do mourn the loss of a child.

5. Even if the unborn are human beings, they have fewer rights than the woman. No one should be forced to donate their body as a life-support system for someone else.

An unborn child has equal rights to other human beings, regardless of age and size. A child, people with disabilities, the elderly, all have the same inalienable rights by virtue of their humanity.

As a society, we generally provide extra protection and safeguards for those among us who are most vulnerable; the aged, those with disabilities, children.

In recent years, our society has worked hard to ensure minorities get equal rights. Everyone seems to be getting more rights, or at least their rights acknowledged and upheld, except the unborn.

An unborn child’s rights are enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child and the more recent 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child states: “Whereas the child, by reasons of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special treatment and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.” 5

Rita Joseph, who wrote Human Rights and the Unborn Child (Brill 2009), and who has studied the context and language of international charters and declarations, concludes:

“Context shines a powerful light on what the authors of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognised as definitive and universal when they framed that crucial first modern statement of human rights. This is particularly important when we come to examine later human rights documents that derive from, and codify the rights expounded in the UDHR, especially as they relate to the child before birth.”

UNICEF agrees with Joseph’s interpretation, stating that the Convention on the Rights of the Child “brings together the human rights articulated in other international instruments. The Convention articulates the rights more completely and provides a set of guiding principles that fundamentally shapes the way in which we view children.” 6

UNICEF says of the convention: “Built on varied legal systems and cultural traditions, the Convention is a universally agreed set of non-negotiable standards and obligations. These basic standards—also called human rights—set minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be respected by governments. They are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability and therefore apply to every human being everywhere. With these rights comes the obligation on both governments and individuals not to infringe on the parallel rights of others. These standards are both interdependent and indivisible; we cannot ensure some rights without—or at the expense of—other rights.” 7

Article six of the convention says: “Children have the right to live. Governments should ensure that children survive and develop healthily.”

As for arguments that no woman should be forced to act as a life-support system for a baby: We are not free to misuse our bodies when it injures another. In other words, personal rights and freedoms are limited or restricted when our behaviour affects others. You can get drunk in the privacy of your own home, but you cannot drive in such a state or abuse and neglect children as a result of being intoxicated. You cannot use your body ie your hands, arms or fists to injure another person.

6. Abortion rights are fundamental to advancing the rights of women.

Abortion has become the primary means of eliminating unwanted females across the globe. Unborn girls are routinely aborted in many Asian countries including Korea, China and India.

In Australia, abortion is increasingly used as a means of sex selection. In 2010, an Australian couple made national news when they chose to abort twin boys conceived through IVF “because they wanted a girl”. 8

Despite their legal right to abortion and supposed accompanying freedom and empowerment, many women say they are forced into choosing abortion, either by circumstances, or pressure from partners and family.

Seventy per cent of women say they felt they had no alternative to abortion. Many of these same women say abortion is morally wrong. One of the weakest arguments for the legitimacy of abortion is that it’s legal in some juridictions of Australia. What is legal is not always right or best. Smoking, prostitution and pornography are all legal, but cause untold damage to the minds, hearts and bodies of Australians. Prostitution and pornography are demeaning to women.

7. It’s unfair to bring children into a world where they are not wanted.

A famous quote from Mother Teresa says: “How can you say there are too many children in the world? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”

There is a big difference between an unintended pregnancy and an unwanted child. Every child is wanted by someone.

There were 80,000 abortions last year in Australia, and a record low number of local adoptions. Only 46 Australian children who were not previously known to the adoptive parents were adopted in 2013-14. 9

There are fewer children available for adoption, not fewer parents who want a child, particularly considering record rates of infertility in Australia.

Adoption needs to be promoted and made easier for Australians.

8. Abortion prevents abuse and neglect.

Rates of childhood abuse and neglect have risen dramatically in the past decade, despite increasing abortion rates.

There were a record 46,448 children in out-of-home-care in 2016, and substantiated reports of abuse have increased from 48,420 instances in 2011-12 to 60,989 substantiated reports in 2015-16.10

9. Abortion needs to be legalised to protect women from having backyard abortions.

Before abortion was made legal, most were done by physicians in their surgeries, and not by backyard butchers using knitting needles and coat hangers.

The single biggest advance in reducing maternal deaths from abortion has not been legalisation but improvements in medical advances such as improved surgical procedures and antibiotics, blood transfusions, improved emergency facilities and anaesthetics. 10

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data on maternal deaths from abortion fell significantly from a rate of about 100 deaths every year in the 1930s, to one death in 1969, the year before the first legal abortion clinic opened in Australia. The decrease in maternal deaths from abortion coincided with the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s. 11

10. Abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother.
Abortion was neither legalised or decriminalised to enable the medical profession to legally save the life of a mother whose life was in actual danger as a result of a pregnancy.
It is also extremely rare for abortion to be considered to save the mother’s life.
Australian doctor and bioethicist, Dr Megan Best, writes:
“In an ectopic pregnancy, the baby forms outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube, which is inadequate to support the pregnancy. Internal bleeding is a common complication that can lead to death.
“While there is a long list of conditions that may occur during pregnancy and threaten the mother’s health, including preeclampsia, cancer and heart disease, it is always worth exploring whether treatment is possible while the pregnancy continues, either to term or viability.” Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, (Matthias Media) pp 185-186.
11. Abortion is understandable when tests reveal an unborn child has a serious illness or life-threatening disability that will cause unbearable hardship for the parents and a reduced quality of life for the child.

History proves again and again that people with disabilities can and do live full and productive lives.

Those with disabilities report lower rates of depression and suicide than able-bodied Australians.

Australian Nick Vujicic, 29, was born with no arms and legs as a result of a rare condition known as tetra-amelia syndrome. He overcame childhood depression to become an international motivational speaker, author, husband and father.

As a society, we are hypocritical and contradictory in our attitude to those with disabilities. Few Australians would consider killing a small child or adolescent who develops a life-threatening illness or disability, but many have no hesitation in recommending we abort an unborn baby with a disability.

Appropriately, Governments and charities raise and spend huge amounts of money on highlighting what people with disabilities can do and achieve, from the Special and Paralympics, through to creating meaningful training and employment opportunities.

The length of one’s life does not determine its value or quality.

Abortions due to “imperfections” have no logical end, leading to designer babies.12

12. Abortion is warranted in the case of rape, including incest.

Rape and incest are terrible crimes against women. Such crimes evoke strong feelings due to the injustice, violence and breach of trust.

As with abortion due to a life-threatening illness of the mother, pregnancy as a result of rape or incest is extremely rare.

Less than 1% of abortions are performed because the woman has been the victim of sexual assault. In one study of 192 women who conceived as a result of sexual assualt, 70 per cent continued their pregnancies. Not one regretted the decision, while 78 per cent of the women who chose abortion regretted their choice. 13

Rape is never the fault of the child. The guilty should be punished, not the innocent.

“There is a close parallel between the violent attack on an innocent woman that happens in a rape, and the violent attack on an innocent child that happens in an abortion. Both are done in response to a subjective and misguided sense of need, and both are done at the expense of an innocent person. The woman might not hate the child in the same way the rapist hates his victim, but this is no consolation to the child.” 14

A child is still a child regardless of the circumstances of conception. This in no way minimises or trivialises the real pain, shame and regret felt by victims of rape.

“Compassion for the mother is vital, but is never served by destroying the innocent. One person must not be killed under the guise of compassion for another. An alternative must be sought that is compassionate to the mother and child.” 15

Abortion Risks & Procedures

The abortion procedures used in Australia vary depending on the gestation of the fetus, and the size and risk of complications to the mother. These are the most common abortion procedures used in Australia.

Medical Abortion

Emergency Contraception/Morning-After Pill

There are various methods used to prevent ovulation or implantation after unprotected intercourse. Some can be used up to five days after ovulation. Those which prevent implantation after fertilization are abortifacients. These include the IUD.

Physical side effects

  • Bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting

Mifepristone (RU486 or the “abortion pill’) can be used to terminate (end) a pregnancy up to nine weeks. It is taken in combination with a second drug, misprostol, which expels the embryo from the uterus.

GPs can now prescribe the two-step termination drugs so that they can be purchased at a pharmacy and self-administered by the woman at home.

The second dose of tablets, containing misoprostol, is taken 24 to 48 hours after the first dose (mifepristone) to soften the cervix and help the uterus contract and expel the embryo. The drug (called MS-2 Step Mifepristone) information stipulates that, “Even if no adverse events have occurred all patients must receive follow-up 14 to 21 days after taking mifepristone.”

Physical side effects

  • Nausea or dizziness for a short time
  • Bleeding from the vagina about 12 hours after treatment
  • Bleeding and cramps that feel like a painful period (women who usually have painful periods are more likely to have severe cramping, but these symptoms usually lessen once the abortion is complete)
  • Headache, diarrhoea and chills (women who need further treatment with prostaglandin are more likely to have these symptoms).

A recent South Australian study has found that the risks associated with medical abortion are significantly higher than those associated with surgical abortion. The study shows that 6.9% of women undergoing medical abortion require admission to hospital due to complications compared to 1.2% of women following surgical abortion (vacuum aspiration/dilation and curettage).

Infection rates following medical abortion are 1 in 480 for medical abortion compared to 1 in 1500 for surgical abortion. Risk of haemorrhage (severe bleeding) is 1 in 200 for medical abortion compared to 1 in 3000 for surgical abortion.

Surgical Abortion

Suction Curettage

This procedure is the preferred methods from 7 weeks to about 12 weeks of pregnancy. Women are usually given either a local or light general anaesthetic for the procedure.

The cervix is dilated with a series of rods of progressively larger sizes being inserted. A tube with suction is then inserted into the uterus, and the fetus and placenta are suctioned out. The lining of the uterus is then scraped to ensure all the contents have been removed.

Dilations and Evacuation (D and E)

This method is used for pregnancies greater than 12 weeks, usually 12-16 weeks

This method requires the use of vacuum aspiration, dilation and curettage and the use of surgical instruments, including forceps, to remove the fetus in pieces.

A local or general anaesthetic will be used.

The cervix is gradually dilated over a period of time with the use of plastic dilators or laminaria. (Laminaria is made of sterile, match-stick sized rods, derived from seaweed, which are inserted in the cervix and as they absorb moisture, they slowly expand to dilate the cervical canal .) The evacuation procedure is performed with a combination of suction aspiration and surgical instruments such as small forceps and the curette, a narrow, spoon-shaped instrument.

Prostaglandins 17-20 Weeks

Prostaglandins are inserted into the vagina or injected into the uterus, and induce uterine contractions and cause the cervix to dilate. The woman is awake during the procedure, but may choose to have an epidural block. The infant may die in utero due to strong contractions or from prematurity.

Women may require curettage after delivery.

Late-Term Abortion Procedures

Dilation & Extraction (D and X) - After 20 Weeks

The procedure is also known as D & X, Intact D & X, Intrauterine Cranial Decompression and Partial Birth Abortion. Two days before the procedure, laminaria is inserted vaginally to dilate the cervix. During the procedure, the fetus is rotated and forceps are used to grasp and pull the legs, shoulders and arms through the birth canal. A small incision is made at the base of the skull to allow a suction catheter inside. The catheter removes the cerebral material until the skull collapses. Then the fetus is completely removed.

To our knowledge, partial birth abortions are not performed in Australia.

Intercardiac Injection Abortion

A long needle containing potassium chloride is injected through the mother’s abdomen and into the baby’s heart. Labor is then induced using prostaglandins.

General Risks & Complications

The complications of termination rise as the pregnancy progresses.

Infection: Up to 10% which, if left untreated, can lead to future infertility.

Retained contents: in around 1-2% of cases, not all the contents may be removed and a further surgical procedure may be required.

Trauma to the Cervix: Occurs in less than 10% of cases

Perforation of the Uterus: 1-4 women per 1000 can be affected. This may require a surgical repair, and on rare occasions, a hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus)

Severe bleeding requiring a transfusion: Up to 2 in every 1000 women

Cervical Stenosis: Approximately 1 in 500 women will develop a small amount of scar tissue at the opening of the uterus. This stops the blood from leaving the uterus. In the majority of cases, this can be treated, but in rare cases can lead to extensive scarring (Aschermann’s Syndrome) and lead to untreatable infertility.

Psychological Disturbances: Significant psychological problems following termination are more likely if the woman has suffered psychological problems in the past, if she feels pressured or coerced into having a termination, or if having a termination is in conflict with her own morals or beliefs. Some women do experience severe psychological and emotional difficulties following abortion.

Retained products of conception: It is possible for the abortion procedure to fail to remove all the contents of the uterus. This may cause prolonged or heavy bleeding and can require a repeat curette to be undertaken. Symptoms include pain, heavy or prolonged bleeding or the passing of clots.

Perforation of the Uterus: During the operation a small hole or tear can be made in the lining of the uterus. This will usually repair itself, but not always. If not, a further operation will be required to repair it. Rarely, a hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus) may be required.

Breast cancer and premature birth: There is a lot of conflicting information about the risks of breast cancer and premature subsequent births following an abortion. However, studies are increasingly showing correlations. In the film Hush, investigative journalist Punam Kumar Gill set out to test the common claim that “abortion is safer than childbirth”. Her research, drawing on extensive studies on the topic, debunked the claim.

Psychological: According to research, women who have had an abortion experience an 81 per cent increased risk of mental health problems. Of those incidences of mental health problems, 10 per cent were directly attributable to abortion.

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Pregnancy Support & Counselling

Help is available near you! One of the things we do is keep a comprehensive, up-to-date listing of pregnancy support and counselling services broken down by states and territories. Click below to find national helplines and local services.

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Post-Abortion Counselling

Abortion Grief Australia

Victims of Abortion

Rachel’s Vineyard

Legal Support

Abortion Legal Support 1800 768 833

  • Defiant Birth. Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics, Melinda Tankard Reist, Spinifex Press, 2006.
  • Giving Sorrow Words. Women’s Stories of Grief After Abortion, Melinda Tankard Reist, Duffy and Snellgrove, 2005.
  • Making Abortion Rare, David C Reardon. A Healing Strategy for a Divided Nation, David C Reardon,;
  • The Facts of Life. An authoritative Guide to Life and Family Issues, Dr Brian Clowes, Human Life International, 2001.
  • The Jericho Plan. Breaking Down the Walls that Prevent Post-Abortion Healing, David C Reardon,;
  • Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, Dr Megan Best, Matthias Media, 2013.
  • A Life Already Started, Dr Megan Best, Fervr Press, 2013.
  • Planned from the Start: A Healing Devotional, Lorraine Marie Varela, Romans 8:28 Books, 2019.
Videos & Films

Follow the amazing journey from conception to birth in this remarkable video using latest imaging technology.

Other videos showing foetal development are available from the Baby Centre

Watch a nine-month pregnancy in 90 seconds. A couple expecting a child have documented their journey in a time-lapse video leading up to the birth of their daughter Amelie.

Alison’s Choice is the story of a teen facing pregnancy. With nowhere to turn, Alison finds herself in a clinic about to end her baby’s life. Suddenly a man appears. His mop tells her he’s the janitor. Conversation begins and it quickly becomes clear that this man is no mere janitor.

Watch the trailer

October Baby is the story of a woman named Hannah, who learns as a young adult that she survived a failed abortion attempt.

Watch the trailer

Unplanned is the inspiring true story of one woman’s journey of transformation. All Abby Johnson ever wanted to do was help women. As one of the youngest Planned Parenthood clinic directors in the nation, she was involved in upwards of 22,000 abortions and counseled countless women about their reproductive choices. Her passion surrounding a woman’s right to choose even led her to become a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, fighting to enact legislation for the cause she so deeply believed in. Until the day she saw something that changed everything, leading Abby Johnson to join her former enemies at 40 Days For Life, and become one of the most ardent pro-life speakers in America.


Abortion Facts References
  1. South Australian Abortion Reporting Committee Annual Report, 2015, tabled in the Legislative Assembly, May 18, 2017. Induced Abortions in Western Australia, 2010-2012, Department of Health, July 2013, Statistical Series no 96, ISSN: 0816299
  2. Marie Stopes International Australia, Women and Abortion
  3. Stephanie Croft, Abortion in Australia in the 21st Century, Facts, Current Trendsand the Way Ahead 2006, NSW Right to Life, p 7.
  4. Ibid, p 15.
  5. Selena Ewing, Women and Abortion: An Evidence-Based Review ,2005; a meta analysis of Australian and international research on why women have abortion, compiled for a Women’s Forum Australia parliamentary submission. See also; citing David Reardon’s book, Victims and Victors, 2000,;
  6. Marie Stopes International Australia, Women, Contraception and Unplanned Pregnancy, 2008, p 8.
  7. John Fleming and Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, Common Ground, Seeking an Australian Consensus on Abortion and Sex Education, St Pauls Publications, 2007, pp 110-111.
  8. Based on David Reardon’s research in Aborted Women, Silent No More (Elliot Institute, 2002) and Passage Through Abortion: Personal and Social Reality of Women’s Experiences by Mary Zimmerman (Praeger Publishers, 1978). A story by Tony Moore in the Sydney Morning Herald (Hidden Abortion Pressure Revealed,September 2, 2009) quoted a senior counsellor from Pregnancy Counselling Link in Brisbane as saying that 70 per cent of women were pressured into abortion by their partners. Surveys by Marie Stopes (What Women Want When Faced with Abortion, 2006) and Lifeway (Study of Women Who Have an Abortion, 2015) show the significant influence of others in the pregnancy decision. The Guttmacher Institute also has research revealing that many teenagers who have abortions are directly and indirectly influenced by the opinions of others. See also
  9. Philip G. Ney, Deeply Damaged, An Explanation for the Profound Problems Arising from Aborting Babies and Abusing Children, Pioneer Publishing Company, 1997.
  10. Dr Priscilla Coleman, Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research published 1995-2009. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2011,; see also, The World Expert Consortium for Abortion Research and Education, WECARE,;
  11. John Fleming and Nicholas Tonti-Filippini, Common Ground, Seeking an Australian Consensus on Abortion and Sex Education, St Pauls Publications, 2007, citing polls over the past decade by Morgan, Newspoll and others.
  12. South Australian Abortion Reporting Committee Annual Report, 2006.
Answers to Common Questions References
  1. Randy Alcorn, Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments, Multnomah Books, 2000, pp 52 and 53.
  2. Ibid, p63
  3. Ibid, p 189
  4. Ibid, p 203
  5. United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,;
  6. UNICEF,;
  7. Ibid,;
  8. Shelley Hadfield, Parents Want Right to Choose their Child’s Gender, The Advertiser, January 27, 2010
  9. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, adoption statistics 2010-2011,;
  10. Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2017 report on abuse and neglect, 2015-2016.
  11. Stephanie Croft, David and Catherine Cotton, Abortion in Australia into the 21st Century, 2006, NSW Right to Life, citing Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.
  12. Defiant Birth. Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics, Melinda Tankard Reist, Spinifex Press, 2006.
  13. David C Reardon, Julie Makimaa and Amy Sobie, Victims and Victors: Speaking Out About the Pregnancies, Abortions and Children Resulting from Sexual Assault, 2000, Acorn Books, Springfield Illinois.
  14. Stephanie Croft, David and Catherine Cotton, Abortion in Australia into the 21st Century, 2006, NSW Right to Life, p15.
  15. Randy Alcorn, Ibid, p 234
Abortion Risks & Procedures References
  1. Termination of Pregnancy, (2005) Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
  2. Planned Parenthood of Australia, Risks of Abortion Procedures.
  3. Pregnancy Outcome in South Australia 2015, Government of South Australia, August 2017.
  4. Stephanie Croft, Cartherine and David Cotton, Abortion in Australian into the 21st Century, 2006, NSW Right to Life, pp 41-43.
  5. Hush: the documentary. Mighty Motion Pictures, 2016. Bibliography.
  6. Women Who Suffered Emotionally From Abortion: A Qualitative Synthesis of Their  Experiences, Priscilla K Coleman, Kaitlyn Boswell, Katrina Etzkorn and Rachel Turnweld, Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Vol 22, Number 4, Winter 2017
  7. Abortion and Mental Health: Quantitive Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published 1995-2009, Priscilla K Coleman, British Journal of Psychiatry, August 2011.
  8. Abortion in Young Women and Subsequent Mental Health, David M. Fergusson, L. John Horwood and Elizabeth M. Ridder, The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol 47, Issue 1, January 2006, pp 16-24.

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