Induced abortion across Australia

A new Family Planning NSW report tracks induced abortion across Australia, laying a foundation for health systems to better understand and respond to the medical needs of the community.

Induced Abortion in Australia 2000-2020 updates information last reported in 2013 and is the first report since the decriminalisation of abortion in NSW and QLD and since significant legislative changes in the NT, ACT, and SA allowing abortions to be performed in a wider range of health facilities.

The report presents an analysis of surgical and medical abortion across Australia and shows the number and rate of surgical abortions in Australia steadily decreased in the past decade.

Family Planning NSW Medical Director Dr Deborah Bateson said Medicare claims for surgical abortion procedures had been decreasing since 2000, with more marked decreases since the introduction of medical abortion in 2006.

"Increases in medical abortion have at least partly compensated for the reduction in surgical procedures, suggesting abortion rates have somewhat plateaued since 2012. This overall trend is consistent with abortion notification data for SA and WA," Dr Bateson said.

From the available data, most abortions continue to be carried out before 14 weeks - 91% in South Australia and 94% in Western Australia.

"Continuing improvements in pre-natal screening are likely behind a small rise in abortions around 20 weeks' gestation for congenital abnormalities. However, the vast majority of abortions continue to be carried out before 14 weeks," Dr Bateson said.

"The report supports efforts to ensure equity of access to abortion care and helps lay the groundwork for a harmonised approach to routine national data collection.

"Continuing to improve data collection on abortion will encourage health services to remove barriers for planning, delivery and evaluation of abortion care and contraceptive services and to meaningfully assess the effects of changes in legislation and policy.

"This report will also support initiatives to evaluate the acceptability and accessibility of contraception as well as the effectiveness of school-based comprehensive sexuality education."

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