The Termination of Pregnancy Act and what it means for women living in Queensland

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There is a lot of discussion in the media and online about abortion, or ‘termination of pregnancy’.

In case you don’t know, a termination of pregnancy, also called an abortion, is a medical procedure that is performed to end a pregnancy. Deciding to end a pregnancy is a personal decision, which can be made for a range of reasons.

You may have a range of questions about terminating a pregnancy, such as:

Who can access one?

How much does it cost?

Is it even legal where I live?

We hope that this blog gives you the information you need to make an informed choice.

Termination of pregnancy law in Queensland

At Darling Downs Health, we abide by a piece of legislation called the Termination of Pregnancy Act 2018.

This act states that termination of pregnancy is a legal, medical procedure in Queensland.

This law sees termination of pregnancy as a health issue rather than a legal issue. Women can request a termination without fear of committing a criminal offence.

It supports a woman’s right to health care which includes reproductive health and autonomy.

When a termination can be performed

If you are up to 22 weeks pregnant you may request a termination, for any reason. You don’t need to tell your doctor the reasons why.

If you are more than 22 weeks pregnant when you request a termination, two doctors must consider all your circumstances and agree the termination should be performed.

The doctor will consider your medical circumstances, your current and future physical, psychological, and social circumstances, and any professional standards and guidelines that are relevant.

Termination services

The options available to you will depend upon how far your pregnancy is along, where you live, your personal circumstances and the type of termination procedure you prefer.

Your GP, local Aboriginal Medical Service or local community health or women’s health organisation can discuss your options with you.

Terminations in a public hospital

Some healthcare facilities may provide a limited number of appointments for terminations.

Priority appointments for terminations will be given to women with complex health care needs and no ability to have a termination in the private sector where most terminations are performed.

Who can perform a termination

A medical practitioner, nurse, midwife, pharmacist, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner may assist in a termination “within their scope of practice”. (Scope of practice means what they are allowed to do as part of their work.)

Conscientious objection

A doctor may refuse to provide or participate in terminations of pregnancy because it conflicts with the doctor’s own personal beliefs, values, or moral concerns. This constitutes a ‘conscientious objection’.

If this happens, the doctor must tell you that they hold these beliefs, and also refer you to a health practitioner or service who they believe can provide the requested service and does not hold a conscientious objection to termination of pregnancy.

If you are a young person

If you are a woman aged less than 18 years, it is your choice to involve your parents/guardians or not.

Some young people under 18 years have the maturity to decide about a termination of pregnancy without their parents’ or guardians’ involvement.

In certain circumstances you may be encouraged to talk to a health professional such as a social worker. This is to ensure you can make this decision for yourself and are well supported.

Information and referral options

If you decide that termination of pregnancy could be an option for you, it may be helpful to have as much information as possible to assist you in making this decision.

Counselling is not mandatory however it is available.

For information on services, procedure, costs, locations, what happens on the day, and how you might feel afterwards, you can contact:

  • 13 HEALTH - 13 43 25 84 is a phone line that provides health information, referral and services to the public.
  • Children By Choice - Phone 1800 177 725 (free call) offers free all-options pregnancy counselling, information and referrals Queensland-wide.
  • Women’s Health Queensland- Phone 1800 017 676 (free call) offers health promotion, information and education services for women and health professionals throughout Queensland.
  • True Relationships and Reproductive Health provides expert reproductive and sexual health care.

If you need to travel

You may have to travel to reach a termination service. If so, you may be eligible for rebates from the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme.

Talk to your local hospital or GP about this or contact 13 HEALTH for more information.