Australia Government Releases New Abortion Figures Amid RU 486 Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 13, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Australia Government Releases New Abortion Figures Amid RU 486 Debate Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 13, 2005

Canberra, Australia ( — As the abortion debate heats up in Australia over whether to legalize the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug, the Australian government released a report Tuesday with new abortion figures. They show more than 84,000 women had abortions in 2003.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report reveals that women in their 20s were the most likely age group to have an abortion, following U.S. trends. Nearly 33 women out of 1,000 had abortions.

For women in their 20s, there is one abortion for every two live births.

Women in their 40s had the lowest abortion rate with 6.7 out of 1000 and the national average is 19.7 out of 1000.

The new information shows most abortions were performed in private hospitals and most were self-funded, rather than paid for at taxpayer expense. Some three-fourths of the women having abortions were native Australians.

About 95 percent of the abortions were performed in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy while 325 abortions were done after 20 weeks.

Women’s Forum Australia spokeswoman Melinda Tankard Reist told the Australian that she worries too many women had abortions without getting proper information about its risks and dangers.

"There is significant evidence that women often feel rushed into a quick decision to terminate, without having fully explored other options," she said. "Professional, objective counseling, independent of the vested interests of abortion providers, is essential."

"These figures, which are unacceptably high, point to the urgent need to address the conditions that often compel women to have [abortions.]"

Elizabeth Sullivan, of the AIHW’s national perinatal statistics unit, said the new report is unable to show how many Australian women had their abortions paid for with taxpayer funds because abortion does not have its own unique Medicare item number, which makes it difficult to track.

A Courier Mail news report says the Australian government is considering changing that to make abortion statistics easier to track.

Rules regarding government reporting of abortions also vary from state to state.

New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have no legal requirements that abortions be reported to state officials.

As a result, AIHW used its limited Medicare data and information from its national hospital morbidity database to estimate the number of abortions, the Courier Mail reported.

The report shows News South Wales has the most number of abortions annually with 32,000. Queensland reported 12,700, 8,000 in WA, 5200 in SA and 939 in NT. No figures were available for other states or territories.