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Pregnancy Advisory Service

Medical and clinical information about abortion at the Womens


The Royal Womens Hospital Fact Sheet / www.thewomens.org.au

The Pregnancy Advisory Service (PAS) at the Royal Womens Cultural and linguistic diversity
Hospital supports women who have an unplanned or unwanted Interpreters are available free of charge to assist any woman
pregnancy. The service provides information and advocacy using the public hospital system.
and can help women to make decisions about their pregnancy.
The Womens understands that women from different cultures
PAS can make appointments for women to have an abortion
have diverse needs and beliefs about abortion and we strive to
at the Womens, or can refer women to other useful services.
be sensitive and responsive to these.
The Womens believes that all women have the right to
accurate and non-judgmental support and information when Individual needs and access
they are facing an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. PAS wants to ensure that women who have special or individual
We believe that women have the right to choose the needs have access to our services and support in using our
services. Please let staff know if there are particular issues
option which is best for their individual circumstances.
for you such as a disability, health issues, problems in your life
This may include:
or circumstances, or difficulties like having to travel a long way.
continuing the pregnancy to have and care for the child
to consider adoption or another care arrangement
Confirming you are pregnant
having an abortion.
If you are not sure if you are pregnant there are a number
of places where you can have a pregnancy test including:
What you can expect from the Womens Health Information Centre at the
services at the Womens Womens (free of charge if you have a Medicare card)
9.00am4.30pm Monday to Friday
Counselling, discussion and support a GP
You may or may not be clear about what you want to do, a womens health service.
or you may want more information and the chance
If you would like further information or to discuss any of these
to discuss your situation further. PAS counsellors are
issues, please telephone PAS on (03) 8345 3063.
available to discuss all your options with you in a non-
judgmental way. The aim is to support you to do what you
want to do. PAS counsellors will not attempt to talk you Having an abortion at the Womens
into any decision. If you wish to have an abortion at the Womens, appointments
are available through the public hospital system, or through
Confidentiality and privacy private consultations with doctors who work at the Womens.
All services at the Womens must protect your confidentiality. For both public and private appointments please telephone
Staff cannot disclose any information about you to others PAS on (03) 8345 3063.
unless you agree and consent to it.
If you attend the clinic or the private doctors rooms,
Patient rights please bring:
letter or referral from your doctor which confirms
The Womens has a charter of patient rights, which describes
your pregnancy
our commitment to providing patients with caring, professional
Medicare Card or number and Health Care Card
and respectful support and care.
if applicable
Age and consent blood group card, if you have one.
If you are under 16 years of age, it is generally necessary Your visit at the public clinic may take several hours and you
for a parent or guardian to give consent for you to have surgery. will need to allow sufficient time for this. If you are running late
However, if you have any concerns about this, please let us or cannot attend your public or private appointment, please
know so we can discuss this with you and help you consider telephone our service or telephone the rooms of the doctor you
all your options. were to attend as soon as possible.

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When you see the doctor you will be examined to safely plan Things to consider about medication abortion
for your abortion and decide on the method. This check-up will Some women feel this is a more natural approach and
usually include an internal vaginal examination and blood tests. feel more in control of the situation.
After the examination and further discussion, a decision will Some women may be concerned when the bleeding
made regarding an abortion. gets heavier, especially if they pass blood clots, or even
The different options will be discussed in full during your a recognisable embryo.
consultations, so you can make an informed choice. Although excessive bleeding and the need for a blood
transfusion are very rare, they are slightly more common
Your abortion will usually take place within a few days after your with a medical abortion than with surgery.
first visit with the doctor. With surgical abortion there are risks, both with the surgery
The doctor or nurse will also talk with you about contraception and with general anaesthetic. Though these are rare,
and follow up appointments. a medical abortion means they can be avoided
The medication has side effects, which usually ease off
Types of abortion after a few hours, but can be unpleasant for some women.
There are two types of abortion, surgical and medication These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and
abortion. Medication abortion (using tablets) may be an option chills. The tablets can be swallowed or dissolved under
at the Womens depending on medical factors, your choice and the tongue or they can be placed inside the vagina which
available bookings. may reduce side effects. This will all depend on your
individual circumstances.
Abortion using medication Most women will stay in hospital for a few hours after
There are medications available to bring about an abortion. medication is given to wait for the pregnancy to pass.
In most cases you would need to be between about 5 and A few women still need to have surgery, sometimes
9 weeks pregnant. There are some exceptions to this but urgently, if they develop infection, bleed heavily or if the
only where it is recommended by a doctor. An abortion using pregnancy does not pass.
medication is done under supervision at the hospital. If you are breastfeeding you will need to stop until the
treatment is complete.
An abortion using medication takes place over three days.
You take one tablet (on day one) and then return to the hospital Surgical abortion
two days later for further medication. After this, the abortion Most women have a surgical abortion between weeks 712
will usually happen within four to eight hours. As the abortion of pregnancy (Calculated from the first day of your last menstrual
happens you will usually have crampy pains and bleeding period or measured by ultrasound). The operation usually involves
which is heavier than a normal period. the use of a suction curette and in most cases is done under
You will be asked to return to the hospital in one to two general anaesthetic.
weeks after the abortion. Follow up is very important because After 12 weeks, the procedure is a little more demanding
sometimes, though it is rare, the abortion will not succeed. physically and, for some women, emotionally. If you are unsure
Up to one in twenty women (or 5 out of 100) may need of the gestation, or you are over 12 weeks pregnant, our service
a curette afterwards for this reason or because of ongoing will discuss the various options with you.
pain and bleeding due to retained pregnancy tissue.
Please refer to our brochure, Medical Information for Women
having an abortion at the Royal Womens Hospital for more
detailed information about having a surgical abortion.

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Things to consider about surgical treatment Contraception
The risk of a curette are very low, but include: It is possible to get pregnant the first time you have sex after
a risk that the surgery has not removed all of the the operation before your first period. Reliable contraception
pregnancy. This can cause prolonged or heavy bleeding should prevent this and methods will be discussed with you
and occasionally the operation may need to be repeated. before the operation.
This will happen in up to one in fifty women (or 2 out of 100).
There are many contraceptive options for you to think about.
infection needing antibiotics: some studies suggest this
If you would like more information about types of contraception
is more common after a surgical abortion than a medical
you want to use, you can discuss it with the doctor at the
abortion, while others suggest the rates are similar.
medical consultation or telephone afterwards to make an
a risk that the cervix or uterus is damaged during
appointment with the Royal Womens Hospital Clinic on (03)
surgery. This is very rare (1 in 1000) and, when it does
8345 3135. There is also information on contraception available
happen, it is usually a small hole or tear which will heal itself.
on our website www.thewomens.org.au/Contraception
excessive bleeding. This is very rare; in a few cases
(12 in 1000) a blood transfusion will be needed.
Contact with PAS
anaesthetic risks. These are very low for healthy women,
Contact PAS (03) 8345 3063 between 9.15am and 4.30pm
but no anaesthetic or operation is without risk.
on weekdays if you wish to make an appointment to see a
Payment counsellor or a doctor. You can contact PAS directly, or a health
professional can make a referral on your behalf. However,
The cost of an abortion and any tests or prescriptions you need
we will need to speak to you directly to confirm appointments.
depends on whether you are a public or private patient, or have
a Medicare or Health Care Card, or private health insurance. These arrangements can be made over the phone or in person.
There is no cost for public patients (however public appointments
Sometimes it can be difficult to get through because the
are limited).
telephone service is very busy. If you find it hard to get
At the time of writing, the private fee is generally around through try:
$295.00. Any costs will be clearly explained when you calling again later
contact PAS. calling the Womens Health Information Centre (WHIC);
the WHIC can send you written information, give you
Day surgery and abortion information about other abortion providers (public and
If you have made a booking for an abortion, we will provide private), or talk with you about what else you might need
information sheets which will provide you with further details to do
of what to expect during and after the procedure. look in the health information section of our website where
you will find information to help you with decision making
Feelings about abortion www.thewomens.org.au
Most women find that when they have freely made a considered look for information on the Better Health Channel website
and informed decision, and have received support and www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
acceptance, that they cope well in the short and longer term.
Some women may feel mixed emotions such as sadness or loss,
as well as being relieved and positive about their decision. Every
More Information
woman is an individual, and will experience an abortion in her For free and confidential information about any womens
own unique way. If you want to talk with a counsellor about how health matters, contact the Womens Health Information Centre
you feel before or after an abortion, please ring (03) 8345 3061 (WHIC) on (03) 8345 3045 or 1800 442 007 (for country
to arrange to talk with a counsellor from PAS or for a referral to callers), visit the Womens website at: www.thewomens.org.au,
another service that can support you. or email whic@thewomens.org.au

Disclaimer The Royal Womens Hospital does not accept any liability to any person for the information or advice (or use of such information or advice) which is provided in this fact sheet
or incorporated into it by reference. We provide this information on the understanding that all persons accessing it take responsibility for assessing its relevance and accuracy. Women are
encouraged to discuss their health needs with a health practitioner. If you have concerns about your health, you should seek advice from your health care provider or if you require urgent
care you should go to the nearest hospital Emergency Department. The Royal Womens Hospital, July 2011

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