What are the risks of having an abortion?

Having an abortion is a very safe medical procedure and like any other medical procedures that may require an anaesthetic, it may also carry a risk. It is important that you tell us about any health issues, even if you think it might not be important, or medical conditions you may have including previous anaesthetics, so that the best care can be provided for you. When you attend for a consultation at the Pregnancy Advisory Centre all the information will be discussed with you including the types of procedures available, the side effects and the risks. Please read the Myths and facts about abortion pamphlet (PDF 132KB) for additional information.

Who can have an abortion?

South Australian residents up to 23 weeks pregnant can have an early medication or surgical abortion in South Australia.

What if I am an overseas student?

Overseas students temporarily residing in South Australia are able to obtain an abortion in the public hospital system. You can locate your closest service by going to the services section on the unplanned pregnancy page.

Overseas students with private health insurance will need to provide the hospital with the relevant health insurer information to access a service.

What if I am under 16 years of age?

If you are under 16 and want to talk to someone confidentially about your options, contact the Pregnancy Advisory Centre or selected metropolitan and country hospitals.

What types of abortion can I have?

There are currently two types of abortions available to South Australian residents - Early medication abortion and surgical abortion.

Early medication abortion can occur by using two medications to cause the pregnancy to miscarry. For detailed information on this type of abortion, see the early medication abortion page.

A surgical abortion requires you to have pre-treatment medication to reduce the risk of bleeding and cervical damage during the surgical procedure. You will then return to have a operation. For detailed information on this type of abortion, see the surgical abortion page.

See also - Medication abortions versus surgical abortions.

How early, or late in the pregnancy can I have an abortion?

Depending on the type of abortion you have will depend on how early or late in your pregnancy you can be.

Early medication abortion can be done as early as you find out about the pregnancy and up to nine weeks.

A surgical abortion can be done as early as six weeks into the pregnancy and up to 23 weeks.

How can I work out how far into the pregnancy I am?

Pregnancy weeks are counted from the first day of your last period, not from the date of conception. Most women have the abortion as early in the pregnancy as possible, however for many good reasons, this is not always possible.

Where can I have an abortion or counselling services?

There are a number of services that offer abortion and counselling services to women, their partners and significant others. For a list of service providers, see the unplanned pregnancy page. Services include the Pregnancy Advisory Centre and selected metropolitan and country hospitals.

Do I need a referral?

No referral is required to access abortion services in South Australia; however a GP, school counsellor, community health service or SHine SA clinic may choose to provide a referral for you.

How much can I expect to pay?

Some services attract a cost, though this can be minimal if you have a Health Care card or Medicare card. Depending on your individual circumstances and which service you attend, charges may also vary. Please contact your service provider for the current charges that apply at the time you make your appointment.

What are the waiting times?

The waiting time for the first appointment is usually less than two weeks. However, if you suspect the pregnancy is over twelve weeks you should advise this when you contact the service. Your second appointment will be the most appropriate appointment depending on your decision.

How long will I be at a clinic?

You will be required to attend the clinic for two appointments.

The first appointment (the clinic consultation process) may take up to two hours.

The second appointment (the operation and recovery) on another day and may take up to two hours. If you are having both appointments (the operation and the clinic consultation) on the same day, expect to there for up to five hours. It is advisable to take a book or something else to occupy the time.

Attending for the second appointment for an early medication abortion will take up to 20 minutes.

For detailed information refer to the following fact sheets:

Do I need to participate in counselling?

No, counselling is optional.

Counselling by experienced social workers can assist you to explore your options and, if appropriate, to plan decision-making strategies without offering advice or judgment.

Counselling is also available over the telephone.

Who can participate in counselling?

Women, partners and significant others who find themselves facing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy can participate in counselling.

Is counselling available after I have had an abortion?

Yes. Post-abortion counselling is available to anyone who has had an abortion at any time during their lives and from any abortion service.

This is available either face-to-face or over the telephone.

What about confidentiality?

Services are provided confidentially, except in circumstances where there is a legal obligation to report information. All staff are bound to keep client confidentiality. Under the Freedom of Information Act (1991), you can request to see your case. A fee may be charged for your application.

Where students and researchers can get more information?

The Pregnancy Advisory Centre has developed this resource to assist students, researchers or anyone interested in understanding the South Australian, Australian and global circumstances of unplanned pregnancy and abortion.

See the Resources for students about unplanned pregnancy (PDF 237KB) for links to resources, services, organisations and where to access the most current information available.

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