Aussie women are getting more educated about the risks and benefits of having an abortion, but their obstetricians are struggling to keep up with the demand for their services.
Key points:Aussies are getting increasingly informed about the impact of abortion and their options, while women are worried about what to expect in the aftermathA new report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare suggests that women are more educated and aware about the health risks of abortion in Australia and how to avoid them.
The report, published on Monday, comes amid a national debate on abortion and abortion providers.
While there are still more than 10,000 abortions performed in Australia every year, the number of abortions has fallen to an all-time low of 1.8 million in 2015-16.
The institute’s study of more than 3,500 Australian women aged 16-64 showed that almost a third of those women had no experience with abortion services, while a third had never undergone a pre-abortion physical examination or had not been told of their options.
And while abortion services are becoming more accessible, more than 40 per cent of those surveyed said they were concerned about what would happen to their health should they terminate a pregnancy.
The study, conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), also found that women who were aware of the risks of the procedure, such as complications, were less likely to terminate.
More than half of women surveyed said that their doctors had not advised them of the possible complications they might experience following the procedure.
Aussie women are increasingly educated about their options and have more confidence in the doctors who they see, with just over a quarter of women (24 per cent) saying they knew that a doctor could provide abortion services without any medical reason.
But for women who do have an abortion and don’t know the risks, the survey also found they were less confident in their options than women who had had an abortion.
More women are also becoming more aware of how they can help patients cope with their decision to terminate their pregnancy.
While one in three women said they had been to a GP, only 10 per cent had visited a hospital to discuss the procedure with a doctor.
The IWPR study found that fewer than one in five women had contacted a family doctor, and nearly one in six women had a private doctor.
Despite the increased knowledge and awareness, the institute said that many women still have concerns about how they should approach the decision to have an early termination.
It said the findings suggest that the lack of access to health services for women is a major obstacle to women deciding to have a termination.
While the findings are positive, there are also issues that need to addressed.
For example, the study found the majority of women who have an elective abortion had a positive experience at the time of termination, with nearly half (48 per cent), or nearly one-quarter, reporting that the abortion was “a success”.
But one in four women who ended their pregnancy with a pre or emergency procedure experienced adverse events.
Dr Amanda Phelan, a GP in the Northern Territory, told the ABC that the majority (57 per cent, or almost one-third) of women that the institute surveyed were satisfied with their experience with the termination of their pregnancy, but there was a need for better education around the process.
“We need to make sure that the health professionals that are in the profession know what to look for,” she said.
“It’s really important that we educate women about the outcomes of the abortion and how it affects them.”
There are a lot of women and men who feel very uncomfortable, or that they don’t feel comfortable or feel that they have any control over how they end their pregnancy.
“Dr Phelans said she was confident that her experience of terminating her pregnancy would not change her mind about terminating her own pregnancy, and said it was important that women have a strong understanding of the options they have.”
I’m not going to be changing my mind and my decision just because I feel more confident about my decision,” she told the broadcaster.
The issue of safety, affordability and affordability remain important for women to understand, she said, adding that the need to educate women on the risks associated with abortion had also been a focus of the institute.
Dr Phellyan said the IWPMR was particularly concerned about the fact that most Australian women are not aware of their right to an abortion prior to their 20th birthday.”
Many women don’t realise that they can access a free or low cost abortion, and that they may be able to access the procedure after they reach their 20 years,” she explained.”
A number of studies have found that the age of the patient can play a significant role in their decision about whether or not to have this abortion.
“Dr Mandy Walker, president of the Australian Women’s Health Network, said there were some barriers to the ability of