This article covers many aspects about abortion, such as the two different types of abortion, the cost of the abortion pill and procedure, and offers support for all women and their partners affected.
There are two types of abortion: Medical Abortion (terminates pregnancy with medication) and Surgical Abortion (terminates pregnancy by surgical procedure).
What Is A Medical Abortion?
A Medical Abortion (also known as Medication Abortion) is when pills are used to terminate a pregnancy. Medical Abortions can only be undertaken during the early stages of pregnancy. After a specified number of weeks they are no longer viable and a Surgical Abortion is the only available termination process.
What Is A Surgical Abortion?
A Surgical Abortion is where a surgical procedure is carried out to remove the foetus. It involves an anaesthetic and a suction (aspiration) of the foetus.
Pros to a Medical Abortion
- Less invasive – no need for surgery
- Feels more ‘natural’ (like a really heavy period)
- Can have the abortion at home
- Usually cheaper
Pros to a Surgical Abortion
- The procedure is over quicker
- Less pain and bleeding afterwards
- Can be done much later than Medical Abortions
Until How Many Weeks Pregnant Can You Take The Abortion Pill?
The time frame or window where a woman is viable to have a Medical Abortion is much shorter than that of a Surgical Abortion. Generally, a Medical Abortion can only be performed up until around 9 weeks gestation (it varies from country to country so always check the regulations for your country). After that date, a surgical abortion is the only way to proceed with an termination, as the medication will not be effective in terminating the pregnancy.
Different countries have different rules for the cut-off date for the Abortion Pill. Remember gestation date is counted from the first date of the last menstrual period, and not the date of conception which generally is around 10-14 days after this.
In Australia and Canada, the Abortion Pill can only be taken within the first 63 days (9 weeks) of gestation. Once a female has passed the 63 days they will no longer be within the time frame to take the abortion pill and they must have a Surgical Abortion.
In the UK the Abortion Pill can be taken up until the first 70 days of pregnancy (10 weeks) – after this a Medical Abortion is not possible and a Surgical Abortion is the only option.
The laws regarding abortion vary greatly in the USA. In some states in the USA abortion is banned.
How Does The Abortion Pill Work?
The ‘Abortion Pill’ isn’t just one pill: it is actually a combination of pills (two sets of tablets) used during a Medical Abortion. This is because two different medicines are needed for a Medical Termination to occur. The two types of medicines are called mifepristone (Mifepristone Linepharma) and misoprostol (GyMiso). Together they are known as MS-2 Step as the Medical Abortion occurs in two stages.
In the first stage, 1 mifepristone tablet is taken. This blocks progesterone – the hormone necessary for the pregnancy to continue. 36-48 hours later, a second medication (misoprostol) is taken which causes the expulsion of the foetus from the uterus. This will come in the form of 4 misoprostol tablets. These misoprostol tablets need to be taken buccally, which means they need to be placed between the cheek and the gum for half an hour. It is very important they are taken like this – if they are swallowed straight away the high stomach acidity can prevent the tablets from working effectively. After 30 minutes of the tablets being stored in the mouth bucally then any residue can be swallowed with water.
Within half an hour, or a couple of hours of taking the second set of tablets (misoprostol) contractions will start and the contents of the uterus will be expelled. You can expect more blood to come out than a normal period, and often the blood will be dark and clumpy (blood clots).
Both sets of tablets must be taken in order for a termination of pregnancy to occur.
A couple of weeks after you have taken the first tablet (mifepristone) you will need to have a blood test to check that the HCG levels in your blood are back to what they were before you got pregnant, to ensure the procedure worked and there are no remnants in the uterus which could lead to an infection.
How Painful Is A Medical Abortion?
The pain experienced from a Medical Abortion will be a lot greater than period pains, but slightly less than the pain experienced during childbirth.
Be prepared for a lot of pain, so make sure you have somewhere comfortable to lie down. Also ensure you place a ‘heavy flow’ sanitary pad in your underwear before the pain starts.
Have a hot water bottle handy as this will help ease the pain slightly.
The pain can last anything from half an hour up to a few hours – every woman will experience it differently. Some women will lose a lot more blood than others. You’ll generally continue to experience heavy bleeding for a couple of days after, but the pain will be less. For the following two to three weeks you may also experience spotting (tiny bits of blood in your underwear).
Where Can You Go To Get An Abortion?
Abortion procedures can occur in hospitals, day surgery centres, or even at the GP. Depending on the country, there are both private and public health centres where you can go.
Getting a Medical Abortion isn’t as simple as finding out you are pregnant and then taking a pill. In most countries, blood tests will need to be done, as well as an Ultrasound to confirm that the foetus is in the uterus (and not in the Fallopian tubes which would lead to an ectopic pregnancy). The whole process from finding out you are pregnant, to actually having the abortion can take a week or so.
Previously you needed to take the tablets in front of the person who prescribed you the medication, but nowadays most places allow you to take the medication at home and do it by yourself.
How Much Does The Abortion Pill Cost?
The cost of the Abortion Pill varies from country to country, but also within different providers.
The Abortion Pill cost depends on:
- whether you go to a private or public service for the procedure (private is more expensive).
- your location
- the gestation of the pregnancy (can be more expensive the more weeks pregnant you are).
How Much Does A Surgical Abortion Cost?
A surgical abortion will generally cost a lot more than a medical abortion.
Generally if you go to a private clinic the price of a surgical abortion starts to rise when the pregnancy reaches 11 or 12 weeks gestation. From week 14 onwards the price will increase even more dramatically. Therefore if money is an issue it’s important to note that it is a time-sensitive decision.
Is Abortion Safe?
Medication Abortion is generally a very safe, low-risk and effective procedure to terminate an early pregnancy. The success rate is up to 98%.
Views On Abortion
Abortion has always been a controversial subject. Many people have political, religious or personal reasons to believe abortion is wrong, yet many people believe it is a woman’s right to choose whether or not she has an abortion. People’s ethics, upbringing, religious background and other factors play a part as to why people have strong opinions on the subject. And whilst around 25% of pregnancies end in abortion, abortion rates and laws vary greatly between countries.
Some countries have taken away women’s rights to choose what happens by making abortion illegal. In fact abortion is illegal in 26 countries, even if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. And in many countries abortion is only legal when it is done to save the mother’s life or preserve her health.
Abortion laws and policies around the world are changing as it becomes more recognised and acceptable that every woman should have the choice what happens to their body. NOBODY should judge any woman for the choices she makes, especially if they don’t know her personal circumstances. Deciding to have an abortion is a hard enough decision to make, without having to deal with the unwanted opinions and judgement of others.
Abortion can occur for a variety of reasons:
- a woman’s life may be at risk if the pregnancy continues
- she may have been the victim of a traumatic assault and rape
- the baby may have serious foetal abnormalities
- the woman may be in a position where she is unable to care for a child (social or economic reasons)
- or simply it is not the right time.
The traditional view that women should always accept all the children that God gives to them, or that abortion is a ‘sin’ in effect says that the foetus is more important than the woman. It is her who will have to live with the decision for the rest of her life, her who will have to financially support and raise the child. If she believes it is something she is not capable of doing, she shouldn’t feel bad for making a responsible decision if her country allows her to. Sadly there is still a stigma attached to having an abortion and many people are anti-abortion at all costs, regardless of the woman’s circumstances.
The fact of the matter is, around 25% of pregnancies end in abortion. Even centuries ago, women were performing abortions at home, which often resulted in the death or serious injury of the woman. With many countries legalising abortion, it has severely reduced the mortality risk of pregnant women as they can get the procedure done safely by a qualified professional. Nowadays, even if women live in a country where abortion is not legal or has restrictions, many women will still find a way to have an abortion (buying ‘abortion pills’ on the black market for example).
If you will be going to an Abortion Clinic, be prepared that there will most probably be some protestors or anti-abortion activists outside the clinic. They may shout things at you, throw pictures of dead babies in your face or other hurtful things. I am saying this just to warn you, because if you are not prepared or aware that something like that might happen, then it could really throw you off-guard and upset you. It is already a difficult and emotional time as it is, without someone verbally attacking you.
If you visit another centre, such as a GP service or a Family Planning/Sexual Health Clinic in a hospital, the chances of bumping into these people are greatly reduced.
How Can You Help Someone Who Is Having An Abortion?
Be there for them. Check they are okay. They may seem perfectly fine one day, then all of a sudden all of their emotions take over and things become overwhelming. Deciding to have an abortion is a very difficult decision for many women and couples to make. If you cannot provide them with kind, supportive words it is best to not say anything at all.
Getting The Abortion Pill In Australia
Getting the Abortion Pill (Medical Abortion) in Australia is relatively easy provided the pregnancy is within the first 63 days (9 weeks) of gestation. Once a female has passed the 63 days they will no longer be within the time frame to qualify for a Medical Abortion and their only option will be to have a Surgical Abortion.
There are many clinics and centres in built-up areas in Australia that provide Medical Abortion services.
Note that before getting the Abortion Pill in Australia you must have blood tests as well as a pelvic ultrasound to confirm the gestation date, and that the foetus is in the uterus. Once you get the results you can book your appointment with the Doctor to arrange a termination of pregnancy.
How Much Does The Abortion Pill Cost in Australia?
The cost of the Abortion Pill in Australia depends on where you are located. There is not a standard price across the country, or even within each State or Territory. Many places provide the service heavily subsidised or even free, and some charge a lot more (several hundred dollars and even upwards of a thousand dollars in some places).
Often you may have to pay for the Abortion Pill and for the Consultation with the Doctor, but then you may get a percentage of the cost reimbursed by Medicare. If you have a Medicare Health Card the price will be a lot cheaper or even free. If you don’t have Medicare the cost can be about twice the price.
You will generally have to pay for the cost of the Consultation with the Doctor (around $350), as well as the cost of the medication (Abortion Pill) which is around $400. Some of the cost however will generally be subsidised if you have Medicare – and in some places the cost of the Abortion Pill will be heavily subsidised so you’ll only need to pay around $40 for the Abortion Pill as opposed to $400.
Abortion Pill in Queensland
There are 10 Abortion Clinics in Queensland and a few GP’s that offer the service.
Remember the Abortion Pill can only be taken up to 9 weeks gestation.
Abortion Clinics in Queensland and Price of Abortion Pill
Blood tests and an Ultrasound will need to be performed before the Abortion Pill can be taken.
Note that Abortion Clinics in Brisbane, The Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast charge around $400 (for Medicare holders).
Abortion Clinics in Rockhampton and Townsville charge $790.
Generally you can claim back a $60-$90 Medicare rebate at all the above locations.
The Sexual Health Centre in Cairns provides the Medical Abortion service free of charge. A cost of only $40 is required to cover the cost of the medication.
Surgical Abortion in Queensland Price
Surgical Abortions can be performed at public hospitals across Queensland. There are also ten private clinics around Queensland that perform Surgical Abortions. Seven are located within Brisbane, The Sunshine Coast and The Gold Coast, with the other three located in Townsville, Rockhampton and Cairns. These clinics charge for Surgical Abortions, with the price according to location and gestation:
BRISBANE, SUNSHINE COAST & GOLD COAST CLINICS PRICE OF SURGICAL ABORTION:
- Up to 12 weeks: $350 – $580
- 12 to 13 weeks: $500 – $850
- 14 to 15 weeks: $650 – $1410
- 16 to 19 weeks: $1500 – $3065
TOWNSVILLE, ROCKHAMPTON & CAIRNS CLINICS PRICE OF SURGICAL ABORTION:
- Up to 12 weeks: $715 – $775
- 12 to 13 weeks: $825 – $890
- 14 to 16 weeks: $1100 – $1500
For Surgical Abortions in Queensland, the cost will increase as the gestational weeks increases, and Surgical Abortions in Townsville, Cairns and Rockhampton are generally more expensive than those in Brisbane, The Sunshine Coast and The Gold Coast.
Only a few clinics provide termination of pregnancy at or after 16 weeks gestation. This will be at the doctor’s discretion and the prices will be a lot higher (from $1500-$3000). These clinics are all located within south-east Queensland (Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast). Only one clinic (in Southport – Gold Coast) will offer a Surgical Abortion at 18-19 weeks gestation.
What GPs in Queensland provide The Abortion Pill?
GPs that can prescribe The Abortion Pill are located in Greater Brisbane, as well as in Cairns, Bundaberg, Mackay, Townsville, Sunshine Coast hinterland and Gold Coast.
Abortion Pill in Cairns:
The Sexual Health Centre on Sheridan Road in Cairns is the cheapest and easiest place to get a Medical Abortion (Abortion Pill) in Queensland. Only $40 is required to be paid (so long as you have Medicare). The Cairns Sexual Health Centre will not close their doors to anyone, so even if you are a just travelling or backpacking through the area they will help you – you don’t need to be an Australian Citizen, a Permanent resident or even a local resident. You only need to be over 16 years old, and live within one hour of a hospital.
The Cairns Sexual Health Centre will organise your blood tests, Ultrasound and Doctor’s consultation – meaning you can have all your tests taken under the same roof, which isn’t the case for many of the other clinics.
Abortion Pill in Sunshine Coast:
Most clinics on The Sunshine Coast will charge around $400.
Clinic 87? Charges for the medication only.
You need to be a resident on The Sunshine Coast to avail of this service.
Abortion Pill in Brisbane:
The Sexual Health Centre in Brisbane does not deal with abortions.
Most clinics in Brisbane will charge around $400.
Point Medical Clinic (Kangaroo Point)
Telephone: 07 3036 1980
At Point Medical Clinic most people need blood tests only – usually no ultrasound is required. The Medication Abortion is provided free of charge (there are specific requirements so ring up to check) and the clinic aims to provide the service over one long consultation.
Brendale Family Medical Practice (Brendale)
Telephone: 07 3419 5417
The GP here at Brendale Family Medical Practice is able to prescribe The Abortion Pill. You will be charged for the consultation (around $325 but $75 can be claimed back through Medicare so the total charge is $250 if you have Medicare). The Doctor will prescribe the medication for you, then you will go to a nearby pharmacist to buy the medication. The pharmacist that stocks the MS-2 Step medication is just a couple of kilometres away. This medication will cost you $40 as opposed to $400 (if you have Medicare). You don’t need to be a resident in the local area to be able to get an appointment here.
Greenslopes Day Surgery (Greenslopes)
Telephone: 07 3397 1211
Surgical Abortions are also performed here up to 16 weeks.
Operating Days: Monday, Thursday and Friday.
Appointments at Brisbane Day Hospital can be booked online via the website or the number below. Patients do not need a pre-procedural blood test, scan or referral from your doctor, this can be booked through the clinic’s administration team. Brisbane Day Hospital also offers contraceptive devices such as Implanon, Mirena and copper IUD’s. These can be inserted on the same day as surgical terminations.
Complete Care Doctors (Mt Gravatt)
Telephone: 07 3188 9005
The total cost upfront is around $250-$300 with Medicare. Book a long appointment or ask for a medication abortion appointment when booking.
Calamvale Central Family Practice (inside Priceline Pharmacy)
Telephone:07 3184 5900
Total upfront cost: $580 with Medicare card. Request a long appointment when booking.
Abortion Pill in Gold Coast:
The Sexual Health Centre in Gold Coast does not cover abortions.
Most clinics on The Gold Coast will charge around $400.
Private Abortion Clinics (eg: Marie Stopes)
If you go to Marie Stopes – it is a private centre and will cost over $1,100. Usually the cost will increase the further along the pregnancy is. Under special circumstances they can offer a concession on the cost.