You can't ask that! International Safe Abortion Day

28 September 2022

It is estimated that half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned and that half of those are terminated' so why' when the topic of abortion has touched the lives of so many people' can't it be brought up in polite conversation?

CQUniversity Nursing Lecturer and reproductive healthcare expert Lydia Mainey wants to decrease the stigma surrounding abortion care and answer questions that many have been curious about but never dared to ask.

  • Is abortion safe?

Abortion is safe when carried out by someone with the necessary skills and using an appropriate method for the stage of pregnancy.

  • What is an illegal abortion? Can you go to prison for an illegal abortion?

An illegal abortion occurs when an unqualified person performs the abortion. They can face jail time. However' it is no longer an offence for a person to perform an abortion on themselves.

  • Does an abortion hurt?

There are four kinds of abortion - spontaneous (miscarriage)' medical' surgical' and labour induction - and all are associated with discomfort or pain. However' pain is a personal experience' one person's experience may differ from another person's.

  • What happens to the foetus after an abortion?

This depends on a few factors' namely' the gestation' the method of abortion and the reason for the abortion. Most abortions in Australia occur in the very early stages of pregnancy and not in a hosptial setting.

The foetus is not usually discernable and is passed as a heavy period. In the hospital environment' foetal tissue may be kept for forensics or genetic testing; however' it is usually disposed of safely.

In later-term abortions' which are very rare' parents may spend time with the baby if they want and may choose to have a funeral.

  • Are abortions sad?

It's important to understand that the decision to have an abortion is complex' and everyone's experience differs. As a person who has worked in an abortion clinic' I have mostly found it to be a profoundly empowering experience. However' there is also room for sadness' relief and grief.

  • Can you have sex after an abortion?

Healthcare providers advise people to refrain from inserting anything into their vagina for 6 weeks after an abortion. This includes having sex or using tampons. This is to prevent infection.

  • Do people who are religious get abortions?

Yes' people from all walks of life have abortions. The decision to have an abortion is very complex' and my experience is that people don't make that decision based on religion alone.

  • Does providing an abortion make you a bad person?

Quite the opposite. Providing abortion care has turned me into a very reflective health practitioner. I've had to challenge my own beliefs' consider the complexities of people's lives' and understand what it means to be a healthcare advocate. I think it's made me a better nurse.

For confidential and non-judgemental support for all pregnancy options' please visit Children by Choice