In Australia, each of the six States and two Territories has different legislation that determines when abortion is lawful.
In Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania, abortion is lawful based on the consent of the woman alone, but different gestational limits apply, ranging from 16 to 24 weeks. Late term abortions can be provided with medical certification (which is required for all abortions in South Australia and the Northern Territory).
In New South Wales and Queensland, abortion access remains restricted although the common law has recognised that abortion is lawful when necessary to prevent a serious risk to the physical or mental health of the woman.
The independent Queensland-based non-profit organisation Children by Choice provides an easy to read summary of the patchwork of laws across Australia.
Except in South Australia, there are extremely limited publically-funded abortion services. The majority is provided in the private sector, primarily in independently run clinics. The national heath scheme Medicare covers some of the costs of such services.
What are the different abortion services available in Australia?
Medical abortion by pill up to 9 weeks (63 days) gestation in an outpatient or primary care setting.
Surgical abortion in a day surgery setting. The gestation to which this is available varies from state to state.
Medical abortion beyond the first trimester by induction of labour in a hospital setting, generally reserved only for serious fetal anomaly.
Who can perform abortions in Australia?
In Australia the legislation only allows for abortion to be performed by doctors.
All gynaecologists are potentially able to perform surgical and medical abortions; General Practitioners and other doctors such as Sexual Health Physicians are able to provide medical and surgical abortions after appropriate training.
Where can I go for abortion services in Australia?
The availability of publically-funded services and independent abortion clinics varies across states and territories. Publically-funded access is very limited except in South Australia.
A referral from a GP is generally not required to access abortion services, except in Western Australia.
Some Family Planning Organisations provide medical abortions:
Visit the Family Planning Alliance Australia website and contact the family planning organization in your state or territory to enquire about availability abortion services.
Telemedicine services are available to women living in all states except South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory due to legislative restrictions.
Both the Tabbot Foundation and Marie Stopes Australia conduct telephone consultations after arranging ultrasound dating in the woman’s local community. Abortion medications are then sent to the woman for use up to 9 weeks gestation.
For further information:
Tabbot Foundation: Phone 1800 180 880
For safe abortion information and support, please contact the following: Marie Stopes Australia: Phone 1300 003 707
General Practitioners who have undertaken training are able to provide medical abortion. Names of individual
GPs are not currently available on a publically accessible list.
What is the cost of an abortion in Australia?
Costs can vary significantly between providers and across the states and territories, so it is important to check with the provider first.
Publically-funded services such as those in South Australia and the Royal Women’s Hospital in Victoria are provided with no out of pocket costs.
The typical cost of a medical abortion through an independent clinic or a GP is around AUD$350 but may go up to around $500. Telemedicine services generally cost AUD$250 – 300 for women with a Medicare card.
The cost of first trimester surgical abortion in a private clinic is around AUD$400 – 600. Costs increase after the first trimester, with steep increases with increasing gestation. Women without a Medicare cared will face higher costs.
What are the legal and safe drugs available in Australia?
Mifepristone plus misoprostol (available in a composite pack as MS-2 Step)
Can I buy abortion pills at a pharmacy in Australia?
Yes, abortion pills can be bought at registered pharmacies in Australia but only with a prescription from a doctor who has been approved to provide these medications.
Can I buy abortion pills online in Australia?
No, it is illegal to import prescription medicines – but abortion pills can be obtained by post through an approved telemedicine service without the need to visit a clinic. Telemedicine is available in all states and territories except South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.